BMI songwriters staked a claim to the vast majority of the 2008 Blues Awards handed out in Tunica, Mississippi May 8. The ceremony's inaugural staging in Tunica prompted excitement and sense of expectancy, and was heralded by many as a triumphant return to the cradle of the blues. Legends including Bobby Rush, Irma Thomas and Koko Taylor numbered among the night's big winners, while revered instrumentalists basked in the spotlight and soul, contemporary and historically-inspired projects received due recognition.
Bobby Rush's wins for Acoustic Blues Artist and Album of the Year arrived on the strength of his 2007 release, Raw, while Irma Thomas earned the Soul Blues - Female Artist of the Year crown. Koko Taylor's slew of trophies underscored her continued relevance: Traditional Blues - Female Artist, Blues Song and Traditional Blues Album of the Year all went to the "Queen of the Blues."
In addition to a Contemporary Blues Album of the Year win for Painkiller, acclaimed vocalist and guitarman Tommy Castro received the prestigious B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award, while the coveted Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year Award went to Honey Piazza. The Holmes Brothers' State of Grace also garnered Soul Blues Album of the Year honors for the beloved group, while musicians Robert Randolf, Bob Stroger, Kim Wilson, Bob Margolin and Deanna Bogart all took home awards touting mastery of their respective instruments.
The night prior to the Blues Awards event, the Blues Foundation held its induction ceremony for the Blues Hall of Fame, honoring the individual achievements of guitarists Hubert Sumlin and Johnny "Guitar" Watson, pianist Jimmy McCracklin, singer Jimmy Weatherspoon, pre-WWII string band the Mississippi Sheiks, and country blues performer Peetie Wheatstraw.
The Blues Foundation was formed in Memphis in 1980 as a non-profit organization to preserve the rich heritage of the blues and promote excellence in blues music. Consisting of over 160 affiliated organizations worldwide, The Blues Foundations sponsors the annual Blues Music Awards, The International Blues Challenge, and the organization's "Blues In The Schools" educational program. For more information on the foundation's programs and history, please visit www.blues.org.
All BMI 2008 Blues Awards Winners
Individual Award Winners
Acoustic Blues - Artist of the Year
Contemporary Blues - Male Artist of the Year
Soul Blues - Male Artist of the Year
Soul Blues - Female Artist of the Year
Traditional Blues - Female Artist of the Year
Traditional Blues - Male Artist of the Year
Best Instrumentalist - Bass
Best Instrumentalist - Guitar
Best Instrumentalist - Harmonica
Best Instrumentalist - Horn
Best Instrumentalist - Pedal Steel
Acoustic Blues Album of the Year
Bobby Rush - Raw (Deep Rush Records)
Blues Song of the Year
Koko Taylor - "Gonna Buy Me A Mule"
Blues DVD of the Year
Kenny Wayne Shepherd - 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads
Contemporary Blues Album of the Year
Tommy Castro - Painkiller (Blind Pig Records)
Historical Album of the Year
Muddy Waters & Johnny Winter - Breakin' It UP, Breakin' it DOWN
Soul Blues Album of the Year
The Holmes Brothers - State of Grace (Alligator Records)
Traditional Blues Album of the Year
Koko Taylor - Old School (Alligator Records)
Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year Award
B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award