You’d think I would be exhausted after a full week of welcoming, talking, listening, greeting, organizing, eating, and dancing. But my first Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony followed by the 37th Blues Music Awards was so energizing that I am still flying on the remnants of the adrenaline that created my recent Blues High. This entire newsletter is dedicated to all of the excitement that was generated by the biggest blues party of the year. You will see [some] photos [here], taken by our wonderful cadre of photographers.
I am also hopeful that these images and stories will inspire everyone to save the date on your calendar for next year: The 38th Blues Music Awards will be held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center on Thursday, May 11, 2017!
I am tremendously thankful for the hard work of so many people, and I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge them now. First – thanks to the top notch staff of the Blues Foundation: Joe Whitmer, Cindi James, Nora Tucker, Stephen Whitney, Glenda Mace, Gary Kabakoff, and Brigette Ebel. These are the behind the scenes magic makers who have worked tirelessly to schedule performances, catalog auction items, arrange seating, line up volunteers, mail tickets, and handle the needs of our members while getting ready for the influx of blues industry and fans to Memphis. Kudos to each of them – they are the ones who make me look good!
To the Blues Foundation Board of Directors, led by Paul Benjamin – a giant thanks! This is the leadership team that is often unheralded and unseen as they consider policy and strategy to move this organization forward, while also giving their time and energy to our Blues Foundation tent presence or our Health Screenings. Speaking of which – a special shout out to Dr. Janice Johnston for coordinating and managing the Health Screenings so that we can insure better health for all of these wonderful musicians who create the music that inspires each of us.
To our presenters at the Blues Music Awards (Eden Brent, EG Kight, Andrew Galloway, Thomas Ruf, Calvin Stovall, James Alexander, Jon Hornyak, Janice Johnston, Janiva Magness and Roger Earl) who were so gracious with their time and willing to be a part of our show. And to our Blues Hall of Fame Emcees and Inductors at Wednesday night’s ceremony (Bob Porter, Bill Wax, Cedric Burnside, Dick Shurman, Jim O’Neal, John Doyle, Grady Champion, Castro Coleman, Marie Trout, and Mike Kappus). Each of these individuals spent time writing their own words to honor those who were inducted into our Blues Hall of Fame in this year’s class: Jimmy Johnson, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, The Memphis Jug Band, John Mayall, Elvin Bishop, Wolf Stephenson and Tommy Couch, Sr.
To all of our volunteers for the week – too many to list, but numbering close to 50 people, many who spent their hard earned resources to travel and stay in Memphis for multiple days in order to support the work of The Blues Foundation via these important programs. To the many people who also produced showcases in the clubs along Beale Street in order to raise money for The Blues Foundation, The Blues Hall of Fame, The HART Fund and Generation Blues. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
Thanks to all of our 2016 Blues Music Awards Nominees and performers, for sharing your extraordinary talents and creativity with us; To the producers, engineers and labels behind the scenes who collaborate with the artists so the rest of us can enjoy their music; To the festivals and clubs who book the talent so blues fans around the world can enjoy live music; To the photographers, videographers, journalists, and scholars who document the stories and the history behind the evolution of the music; To the managers and publicists who keep the musicians organized, focused, and freed from many of their business burdens so that they can create and perform more freely; And of course to the fans who show up, listen not only with their ears but also with their hearts, and share their love in return.
To each and every one of you who understands the value of the blues and respects and honors the spirit of the music – I close with a GIANT THANK YOU!
It’s [was] quite a week. I am inspired to continue moving this organization forward. For now, let us all revel in the glory of such wonderful people and music. Now, it’s back to work!