41st Annual Blues Music Awards Nominees Announced


    Winners to be Revealed May 7th at Memphis Gala Ceremony

    An impressive assembly of blues music masters, ranging from Blues Hall of Famers to rising stars, will gather in Memphis on Thursday May 7, for the 41st annual Blues Music Awards. Presented by The Blues Foundation, the BMAs honor the past year’s exceptional achievements in blues music recording, performance, and songwriting, as well as supporting the blues’ rich cultural traditions. This celebratory evening, recognized internationally as the blues world’s premier event, not only attracts nearly all the nominees, but also presents them in performance.

    The event takes place at Memphis’ Cannon Center for the Performing Arts (255 North Main Street), where a Blue Carpet will lead to the theater. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the ceremony commencing at 6:30 p.m. sharp. Tickets range from individual seats for $80 to full boxes of 10 for $2,500 per box, with most seats being at a $150 per person price point. All tickets (unless otherwise noted) include admission to the post-show After Party, which will feature additional live performances by nominees, buffet dinner, cash bars, and more festivities. The After Party takes place in the newly renovated Grand Lobby of the Renasant Convention Center, which is attached to the Cannon Center via an indoor walkway.

    Topping the list of talented BMA contenders are Rick Estrin and his band Rick Estrin & the Nightcats, with eight nominations. It’s a familiar situation for Estrin and the group as they garnered eight overall nominations two years ago, which led to a trio of BMA victories (Band of the Year, Song of the Year, and Traditional Blues Artist). This year, they are again up for their 2018 winning categories along with Contemporary Blues Album (for their aptly named Contemporary). Additionally, Estrin has earned B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and Instrumentalist: Harmonica nominations, while guitarist Christoffer “Kid” Andersen and drummer Derrick D’Mar Martin are in the running for their respective instrumental categories.

    Just behind Rick Estrin & the Nightcats in the nomination count is Sugaray Rayford. Last year’s Soul Blues Male Artist is not only attempting to retain that title, he’s also nominated for the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, Soul Blues Album (for Somebody Save Me), Instrumentalist: Vocals, and with the Sugaray Rayford Band for Band of the Year, while “Time To Get Movin’,” penned by Somebody Save Me’s producer Eric Corne, is competing for Song of the Year. 

    The Cash Box Kings and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram both are hoping to rule the BMAs too as each act nabbed a handful of nods. Ingram is one of the fastest rising stars in the blues scene, so it’s no surprise finding his name in the Best Emerging Artist Album category. Kingfish, however, also has earned nominations for Contemporary Blues Male Artist and Instrumentalist: Guitar, and his album Kingfish is up for Traditional Blues Album and Album of the Year. Midwestern titans The Cash Box Kings are also competing for Album of the Year and Traditional Blues Album (for Hail to the Kings!), as well as Band of the Year. Their recorded song “The Wine Talkin’,” written by Joe Nosek, John Hahn, and Oscar Wilson, is up for Song of the Year honors, while band member Kenny “Beedy Eyes”Smith is among the contenders for Instrumentalist: Drums. 

    Chicago blues stalwart Billy Branch also has picked up numerous nominations. His album with The Sons of Blues, Roots and Branches: The Songs of Little Walter, is in the battle for Album of the Year and Traditional Blues Album while Branch is nominated for Instrumentalist: Harmonica, Traditional Blues Male Artist, and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, where he is facing Estrin, Rayford and Blues Hall of Famers Mavis Staples and Bobby Rush. However well he does at the BMAs, Branch is guaranteed to have a triumphant 2020 as he will be inducted into The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame the day before the Blues Music Awards along with Bettye LaVette who is nominated for Soul Blues Female.

    From the video channel of I Am AVL

    The 2020 nominations prove that the blues is very much alive and well. In addition to Kingfish’s five nominations, numerous award nominations are also going to young blues artists, including Jontavious Willis, nominated in two categories (Best Emerging Artist Album and Traditional Blues Album, for Spectacular); Larkin Poe, nominated for Band of the Year, with band member Rebecca Lovell receiving a nod for Song of the year for “Beach Blonde Bottle Blues”; Samantha Fish, up for Contemporary Blues Female Artist; Annika Chambers, trying to reclaim her Soul Blues Female Artist Award; and 2018 Best Emerging Artists Southern Avenue, nominated this year in the Soul Blues Album category for Keep On

    The day before the BMAs, The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place Wednesday, May 6, at Memphis’ Halloran Centre at the Orpheum (225 South Main Street). Following a 5:30 p.m. cocktail reception, the inductions begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Halloran Theater. Tickets, which include ceremony and reception admission, are $75 each and, as with any other musical event or charitable donation, they are non-refundable. Tickets to all Blues Music Awards week events will be available at Will Call only; pick-up location information will be released one week ahead of the Blues Music Awards.

    The complete list of Blues Music Award nominees can be found below and on The Blues Foundation’s website. The ballot will be open for voting by current Blues Foundation members only until 5 p.m. CST on Friday, February 28.  To become a Blues Foundation member, visit and click on the Join button to learn about the different membership levels and how to easily and securely join online. Upon membership confirmation, new and renewing members will be sent instructions on how to access the 2020 Blues Music Awards Ballot. 

    Major funding for the 41st Blues Music Awards is provided by ArtsMemphis, Tennessee Arts Commission, Memphis Tourism, Four Roses Bourbon, Visit Clarksdale, and the Gibson Foundation. Special thanks to special partners The Memphis International Airport and Ditty TV.

    The Blues Foundation is a world-renowned Memphis-based organization whose mission is to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, the Foundation has approximately 4,000 individual members and 173 affiliated blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals worldwide. Its signature honors and events — the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame inductions, International Blues Challenge, and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards — make it the international hub of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance for musicians in need, while Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues Scholarships expose new generations to blues music. The Blues Hall of Fame Museum, located in Downtown Memphis, adds the opportunity for blues lovers of all ages to interact with blues music and history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the global blues community with answers, information, and news.

    From the video channel of JazzBluesFlorida


    Acoustic Blues Album, Sponsored by Newman, DeCoster
    Catfish Crawl– Catfish Keith
    Confessin’ My Dues -Terry Robb
    Good as Your Last Dollar– Fruteland Jackson
    Solo Ride – Bruce Katz
    This Guitar and Tonight – Bob Margolin

    Acoustic Blues Artist, Sponsored by Folk Alliance International
    Eric Bibb
    Guy Davis
    Rhiannon Giddens
    Fruteland Jackson
    Doug MacLeod

    Album of the Year, Sponsored by Rum Boogie Café and Blues Hall
    Church of the Blues – Watermelon Slim
    Hail to The Kings! – The Cash Box Kings
    Kingfish – Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
    The Preacher, The Politician or The Pimp – Toronzo Cannon
    Roots and Branches: The Songs of Little Walter– Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues

    B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, Sponsored by B.B. King’s Blues Club
    Billy Branch
    Rick Estrin
    Sugaray Rayford
    Bobby Rush
    Mavis Staples

    Band of the Year
    The Cash Box Kings
    The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling
    Rick Estrin and the Nightcats
    Southern Avenue
    Sugaray Rayford Band

    Best Emerging Artist Album
    Before Me – Ben Levin
    Folie a deux – Hudspeth & Taylor
    Kingfish – Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
    Spectacular Class – Jontavious Willis
    Through My Eyes – John “Blues” Boyd

    Blues Rock Album
    Killin’ It Live – Tommy Castro & The Painkillers
    Masterpiece– Albert Castiglia
    Reckless Heart– Joanne Shaw Taylor
    Survivor Blues – Walter Trout
    Up and Rolling – North Mississippi Allstars

    Blues Rock Artist, Sponsored by Landmark Band
    Albert Castiglia
    Tommy Castro
    Tinsley Ellis
    Eric Gales
    Walter Trout

    Contemporary Blues Album
    Contemporary – Rick Estrin and The Nightcats
    Don’t Pass Me By: A Tribute to Sean Costello – Various Artists
    Kingfish – Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
    The Preacher, The Politician or The Pimp – Toronzo Cannon
    Venom & Faith – Larkin Poe

    Contemporary Blues Female Artist
    Diane Blue
    Vanessa Collier
    Shemekia Copeland
    Samantha Fish
    Janiva Magness

    Contemporary Blues Male Artist
    Toronzo Cannon
    Gary Clark Jr
    Luther Dickinson
    Rick Estrin
    Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

    Instrumentalist Bass
    Willie J. Campbell
    Patrick Rynn
    Bill Stuve
    Larry Taylor
    Michael “Mudcat” Ward

    Instrumentalist Drums
    Tony Braunagel
    Cedric Burnside
    June Core
    Derrick D’Mar Martin
    Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

    Instrumentalist Guitar
    Christoffer “Kid” Andersen
    Laura Chavez
    Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
    Junior Watson
    “Monster” Mike Welch

    Instrumentalist Harmonica, Sponsored by Hohner Harmonica
    Billy Branch
    Rick Estrin
    Dennis Gruenling
    Brandon Santini
    Kim Wilson

    Instrumentalist Horn
    Mindi Abair
    Jimmy Carpenter
    Vanessa Collier
    Trombone Shorty
    Nancy Wright

    Instrumentalist Piano (Pinetop Perkins Piano Player)
    Anthony Geraci
    Bruce Katz
    Dave Keyes
    Jim Pugh
    Victor Wainwright

    Instrumentalist Vocals
    Shemekia Copeland
    Sugaray Rayford
    Curtis Salgado
    Mavis Staples
    Dawn Tyler Watson

    Song of the Year
    “Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues,” written by Rebecca Lovell
    “Lucky Guy,” written by Nick Moss
    “Resentment File,” written by Rick Estrin, Joe Louis Walker, & JoJo Russo
    “Time To Get Movin’,” written by Eric Corne
    “The Wine Talkin’,” written by Joe Nosek, John Hahn, and Oscar Wilson

    Soul Blues Album
    Dog Eat Dog – Billy Price
    Keep On– Southern Avenue
    Real Street – Tad Robinson
    Sitting on Top of the Blues– Bobby Rush
    Somebody Save Me– Sugaray Rayford

    Soul Blues Female Artist
    Annika Chambers
    Thornetta Davis
    Bettye LaVette
    Terrie Odabi
    Vaneese Thomas

    Soul Blues Male Artist
    Billy Price
    Sugaray Rayford
    Tad Robinson
    Curtis Salgado
    Wee Willie Walker

    Traditional Blues Album
    Church of the Blues – Watermelon Slim
    Hail to the Kings! – The Cash Box Kings
    Lucky Guy! – The Nick Moss Band Featuring Dennis Gruenling
    Roots and Branches: The Songs of Little Walter– Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues
    Spectacular Class – Jontavious Willis

    Traditional Blues Female Artist (Koko Taylor Award)
    Rory Block
    Sue Foley
    Mary Lane
    Trudy Lynn
    Teeny Tucker

    Traditional Blues Male Artist
    Lurrie Bell
    Billy Branch
    John Primer
    Jimmie Vaughan
    Jontavious Willis

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