The BMI family of bluesmen and women dominated the 32nd Blues Music Awards, winning an overwhelming 98% of the awards handed out last week in Memphis. Buddy Guy led the BMI surge, proving his brand of soul-soaked blues only gets better with time: The 2010 Blues Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award honoree took home B.B. King Entertainer and Album of the Year for Living Proof. Guy also earned Song of the Year for the album’s title track, as well as Contemporary Blues Album and Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year.
The late great Solomon Burke earned two awards: Soul Blues Male Artist and Soul Blues Album of the Year for Nothing’s Impossible. Derek Trucks also took home a pair of trophies, including Band of the Year for the Derek Trucks Band and an individual instrumentalist award for guitarist of the year. Legend Charlie Musselwhite is still potent, receiving recognition as the year’s top harmonica player and the Traditional Blues Male Artist of the Year.
It was also a good year for BMI’s blues women. The incomparable Irma Thomas earned Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year, while Ruthie Foster garnered Koko Taylor Award for Traditional Blues Female of the Year. Robin Rogers posthumously won Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year, and her husband Tony Rogers emotionally accepted the trophy on her behalf.
Matt Hill walked away with Best New Artist Debut honors for his album On the Floor. Venerable pair Pinetop Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith earned Traditional Blues Album of the Year for their collaboration Joined at the Hip. 97-year-old Perkins also passed away earlier this year. Dr. John, Eddie Shaw and Bob Stroger each took home awards for Pinetop Perkins Piano Player, top horn player and bassist, respectively. Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s Live In Chicago was named Rock Blues Album of the Year, while The Nighthawks’ Last Train to Bluesville earned Acoustic Album of the Year. Luther Allison’s (SACEM) Songs from the Road garnered DVD of the Year honors, and Bob Corritore & Friends’ Harmonica Blues claimed the Historical Album of the Year prize.
The night before the awards ceremony, legendary BMI singer/songwriters Robert Cray, John Hammond, Denise LaSalle, and J.B. Lenoir were inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in recognition of their genre-shaping work as performers. Cray’s 1985 release False Accusations was also inducted in the Classic of Blues Recordings (Album) field, as was the iconic Sam Cooke’s Night Beat (1963), and the incomparable Howlin’ Wolf’s The Real Folk Blues (1965). Jimmy Witherspoon’s 1947 song “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” entered the Hall as part of the Classic of Blues Recordings (Single or Album Track) inductees, along with Eddie Boyd’s “Five Long Years” (1952), and Skip James’ “Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues” (1931).
The dominance of BMI blues songwriters points directly to BMI’s dedication to the cherished American artform, a commitment that spans over half a century. BMI was the first performing right organization to open its doors to the blues, and today, BMI blues journeymen are the genre’s architects and its auspicious new torch-bearers.
For more information, visit blues.org.
2011 Blues Music Awards
Presenting Sponsor: The Gibson Foundation
Acoustic Album of the Year
Last Train to Bluesville
Album of the Year
B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
Band of the Year
Derek Trucks Band
Best New Artist Debut
On the Floor
Contemporary Blues Album of the Year
Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year
Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year
DVD of the Year
Songs from the Road
Luther Allison (SACEM)
Historical Album of the Year
Bob Corritore & Friends
Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Rock Blues Album of the Year
Live In Chicago
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Song of the Year
Co-written by Buddy Guy
Living Proof by Buddy Guy
Soul Blues Album of the Year
Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year
Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year
Traditional Blues Album of the Year
Joined at the Hip
Pinetop Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith
Koko Taylor Award-Traditional Blues Female of the Year
Traditional Blues Male Artist of the Year