(MEMPHIS, TN) – Since the Blues
Foundation was founded in 1980, it has held the mission of preserving and
promoting blues around the world, and this year’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award honorees
demonstrate just how successful the organization has been over the past four
decades. The nine individuals and organizations receiving KBAs in 2020 don’t
just hail from the blues’ traditional territory of the American South but from
such far-reaching blues outposts as Denmark, Poland, and Colombia.
KBA Awards, chosen annually by a select panel of blues professionals, salutes
those who have played crucial roles in advancing the art and commerce of blues.
This year’s esteemed honorees will be recognized for their achievements at the
Keeping the Blues Alive Awards brunch, taking place on Friday, January 31,
2020, 10:30 am., in the Holiday Inn Memphis-Downtown Ballroom.
The 2020 Keeping the Blues Alive Awards recipients
are Peter Astrup, Dr. Rob Bowman, The Cali Blues & Folk Festival, Hal &
Mal’s USA Blues Club, Jimiway Blues Festival, Dr. Janice Johnston, Jus’ Blues
Music Foundation, Kentuckiana Blues Society, and Kathleen Lawton.
Peter Astrup is well known to thousands of musicians
in Europe and the United States, and has dedicated his life to establishing and
expanding, the blues music scene in his native Denmark and throughout Europe.
Dr. Rob Bowman is an associate professor of music at
Toronto’s York University, is an accomplished blues educator lauded for his
scholarship as well as for his support of Toronto’s blues music community and
his involvement in Canada’s prestigious Juno Awards.
The Cali Blues & Folk Festival is a signature
event of the Centro Cultural Colombo Americano in Cali, Colombia. Founded in 1954, this nonprofit binational center is
dedicated to enhancing the friendship between Colombia and the United States
through an array of arts, cultural, and English language education programs.
Hal & Mal’s USA Blues Club has been operating out
of the circa-1923 GM&O freight depot building in downtown Jackson,
Mississippi, Hal & Mal’s USA Blues Club was founded in 1985 by brothers Hal
White (now deceased) and Malcolm White, current director of the Mississippi
Jimiway Blues Festival was founded in 1994 by the
father-and-son team of Benedykt Kunicki and Oskar Kunicki in Ostrów
Wielkopolski, Poland. Named in tribute to Jimi Hendrix, this nonprofit
initiative is rooted in the mission of presenting a broad spectrum of blues
Dr. Janice Johnston has been an advocate for blues
musician health since becoming involved with The Blues Foundation in 2013. As
the chairperson of The Blues Foundation’s HART Fund, Dr. Johnston has worked
tirelessly to expand the offerings of this fund, which was established to
ensure that blues musicians can get the resources needed to secure healthcare
for both acute and chronic conditions.
Jus’ Blues Music Foundation was established in 1995.
This Georgia-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization was founded “to preserve
blues heritage through cultural arts by nurturing the soul of the blues with
historical blues education programming.”
Kentuckiana Blues Society is located in Louisville,
Kentucky and was founded in 1988 with the goal to preserve, promote, and
perpetuate the blues tradition in all its forms. Through extensive research and
documentation, the KBS has made major inroads in authenticating the history of
the blues in Louisville.
Kathleen Lawton is one of the world’s preeminent blues
DJs who has hosted the radio show Crazy ’Bout the Blues on San
Mateo-based KCSM-FM since 1988. It can be heard live on terrestrial radio at
91.1 FM and streaming via the Internet, every Friday from 9 p.m. until midnight
KBA ceremony represents just one part of The Blues Foundation’s 36th
Annual International Blues Challenge. The IBC Week kicks off Tuesday, January
28, 2020, with International Showcase performances on historic Beale Street,
and concludes with the finals at Memphis’ Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, February
1 at 12 noon. More than 800 musicians will arrive in Memphis from all across
the globe to battle for glory — along with prizes and bookings — in the
International Blues Challenge, the world’s largest and most renowned blues
music competition. Showcases, jams, panels, workshops, and master classes will
occur daily up and down Beale Street, with the music jamming on into the wee
hours after the IBC challenger performances conclude each evening.
For more KBA recipient details click here. For more information about the International Blues Challenge, including the full schedule of events, IBC merchandise, and links to reserve discounted hotel rooms in Downtown Memphis, click here.