BMI blues artists dominated the 25th Annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards, winning all but one of the 25 awards. The silver anniversary was held before a sold-out crowd at the Cannon Center Ballroom in Memphis on April 29. Several nominees performed throughout the evening, which featured a dinner, silent auction and the presentation of the awards.
Leading the list of BMI winners was legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy, who took home three trophies including Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year. His latest release, Blues Singer, won Blues Album of the Year and Acoustic Blues Album. Other multiple winners were singer/pianist Marcia Ball, soul singer Etta James, and jump blues/swing band Roomful of Blues with two awards each. World-renowned BMI artist B.B. King repeated as Blues Entertainer of the Year.
For the past 25 years, the Handy Awards have celebrated excellence in performance and recording of the blues and is the highest honor bestowed upon artists in the blues industry. The United States Senate passed a resolution last year declaring 2003 "The Year of the Blues" in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of when W. C. Handy first heard the blues in a train depot in Mississippi. Named for the "Father of the Blues," the W.C. Handy Blues Awards are produced by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation, a non-profit organization established to "preserve, celebrate and support" the blues. BMI is a long-time supporter of the Blues Foundation.
Roomful of Blues
The awards ceremony is the traditional opener to the Handy Weekend, a series of events for blues musicians, industry members, and fans. Handy Weekend events include a Blues Symposium with workshops, the Handy Awards Music Festival, a blues film fest, the Handy Awards Children's Festival and the annual induction of the Blues Hall of Fame. This year's inductees included BMI Icon Bo Diddley, harp master Slim Harpo and Chicago bluesman Jimmy Reed. To date, 96% of the performers in the Blues Hall of Fame are BMI songwriters.
BMI's 2004 W.C. Handy Blues Awards Winners:
Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year
Blues Album of the Year: Blues Singer
Acoustic Blues Album of the Year: Blues Singer
Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year
Contemporary Blues Album of the Year: So Many Rivers
Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year
Soul Blues Album of the Year: Let's Roll
Roomful of Blues
Blues Band of the Year
Blues Instrumentalist, Horns
Blues Entertainer of the Year
Best New Artist
Traditional Blues Male Artist of the Year
Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year
Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year
Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year
Blues Instrumentalist, Guitar
Blues Instrumentalist, Keyboards
Blues Instrumentalist, Harmonica
Blues Instrumentalist, Bass:
Willie "Big Eyes" Smith
Blues Instrumentalist, Drums
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Blues Instrumentalist, Other (Fiddle)
Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets
Traditional Blues Album of the Year: Which Way Is Texas?
Historical Blues Album of the Year: Muddy 'Mississippi' Waters Live
Kim Wilson and Amanda Taylor
Blues Song of the Year: "Looking For Trouble"