Winners & Highlights of the 39th Blues Music Awards

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Photos by Jeff Fasano

(MEMPHIS, TN) – The Blues Music Awards encompass a broad range of blues styles as well as recognizing both great old and new blues performances. The packed house of top blues musicians, music business professionals and devoted fans from around the globe not only got to salute the best in blues for the past year but also enjoyed a night filled with terrific live performances. Blues music continues to grow and thrive; half of the performances on the BMA stage were led by artists who are under the age of 45, with many still in their 20s and 30s. Blues Foundation President and CEO Barbara Newman reports, “We are watching the trends closely, and the blues, as a genre, is definitely on an uptick, with younger musicians being drawn to create and play this style of music and a continually growing following of the music on our social media outlets and beyond.”

While the Blues Hall of Fame Induction ceremony and the Blues Music Awards certainly rank as highlights, the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Week also contained a variety of special events, including a Little Steven concert, a special meet-and-greet with painter Michael P. Maness (whose art is currently on display in the Blues Hall of Fame Museum), a Bob Porter book signing, a Recording Academy luncheon, free health screenings hosted by the Blues Foundation’s HART Fund, and a lively jam session fundraiser that followed the Induction ceremony.

As Little Steven said in his introductory speech, “At a time our country is more segregated than at any time in the past 100 years, music holds us together and touches all our souls.” 

Here’s the list of 2018 Blues Music Award winners:

Acoustic Album
Break The Chain, Doug MacLeod

Acoustic Artist
Taj Mahal

Album of the Year
TajMo, Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’

B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
Taj Mahal

Band of the Year
Rick Estrin & The Nightcats

Best Emerging Artist Album
Southern Avenue, Southern Avenue

Contemporary Blues Album
TajMo, Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Samantha Fish

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Keb’ Mo’

Historical Album
Luther Allison – A Legend Never Dies, Essential Recordings 1976-1997 (Ruf Records)

Instrumentalist – Vocals
Beth Hart

Instrumentalist – Bass
Michael “Mudcat” Ward

Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female Artist)
Ruthie Foster

Instrumentalist – Drums
Tony Braunagel

Instrumentalist – Guitar
Ronnie Earl

Instrumentalist – Harmonica
Jason Ricci

Instrumentalist – Horn
Trombone Shorty

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player (Instrumentalist – Piano)
Victor Wainwright

Rock Blues Album
We’re All In This Together, Walter Trout

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Rick Estrin

Rock Blues Artist
Mike Zito
Song of the Year
“The Blues Ain’t Going Nowhere”, written by Rick Estrin

Soul Blues Album
Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm, Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm
Soul Blues Female Artist
Mavis Staples
Soul Blues Male Artist
Curtis Salgado
Traditional Blues Album
Right Place, Right Time, Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter

Blues Foundation Website

For more information regarding the Blues Foundation’s 39th Annual International Blues Challenge, please contact Conqueroo:
Cary Baker • (323) 656-1600 • Email 
Brian O’Neal • (310) 702-8844 • Email




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