2019 Blues Music Awards Pay Tribute to the Late Michael Ledbetter and More

Posted in News on May 15, 2019
Shemekia Copeland performs at the 40th Blues Music Awards.
Shemekia Copeland performs at the 40th Blues Music Awards. Photo: Marilyn Stringer

BMI affiliates made another strong showing at the 40th Blues Music Awards ceremony, which was held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center in Memphis, TN on May 9.

Despite being an evening of celebration for the Blues community, this year’s ceremony had bittersweet poignance as the top award winner was BMI singer/songwriter Michael Ledbetter, who passed away in January. Ledbetter was posthumously awarded with the Instrumentalist-Vocals award and given the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year accolade. Additionally, Ledbetter’s band, The Welch-Ledbetter Connection, were named Band of the Year. Ledbetter’s collaborator Monster Mike Welch claimed the Instrumentalist-Guitar award.

Other notable BMI wins included Amanda Fish claiming the Best Emerging Artist Album award for Free, Billy F Gibbons claiming the Blues Rock Album award for The Big Bad Blues, Ben Harper’s “No Mercy in This Land” being named Song of The Year, and Ruthie Foster claiming the Koko Taylor Award celebrating Traditional Blues Female Artistry.

Bringing together performers, industry representatives and fans from all over the world to celebrate the best in Blues recordings and performances from the previous year, the BMAs are given to songwriters and musicians and are awarded by vote of Blues Foundation members. Presented by the Blues Foundation, the annual Blues Music Awards are co-sponsored by BMI and The Gibson Foundation, among others.

Below is the complete list of BMI winners. Congratulations to all!

Acoustic Artist
Rory Block

B.B. King Entertainer
Michael Ledbetter

Welch-Ledbetter Connection

Best Emerging Artist Album
Free- Amanda Fish

Blues Rock Album
The Big Bad Blues– Billy F Gibbons

Blues Rock Artist
Eric Gales

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Danielle Nicole

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Kenny Neal

Instrumentalist - Bass
Danielle Nicole

Instrumentalist - Guitar
Monster Mike Welch

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Marcia Ball

Instrumentalist - Vocals
Michael Ledbetter

Song of the Year
“No Mercy In This Land”
Written By Ben Harper

Soul Blues Album
I’m Still Around – Johnny Rawls

Traditional Blues Album
The Blues is Alive and Well – Buddy Guy

Koko Taylor Award
(Traditional Blues Female Artist)
Ruthie Foster

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Nick Moss


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