The Blues Foundation Announces 43rd Blues Music Award Nominees

The Blues Foundation Announces 43rd Blues Music Award Nominees

American Blues Scene Staff

The BMAs honor the past year’s exceptional achievements in blues music recording, performance, and songwriting, as well as supporting the blues rich cultural traditions.

An impressive assembly of blues music masters, ranging from Blues Hall of Famers to rising stars, will gather in Memphis on Thursday, May 5th, for the 43rd Annual Blues Music Awards. Presented by The Blues Foundation, the BMAs honor the past year’s exceptional achievements in blues music recording, performance, and songwriting, as well as supporting the blues rich cultural traditions. This celebratory evening is recognized internationally as the blues world’s premier event brings nominees to town and many on stage to perform.

Blues Music Award Trophies Photo: J Skolnick

The event takes place at Memphis’ Renasant Convention Center, (255 North Main Street), where a Blue Carpet will lead to the theater. The Blue Carpet pre-show commences at 5pm. Tickets range from individual seats for $150 to Premium tables (seats 10) for $1800.

Topping the list of talented BMA contenders is Tommy Castro, with five nominations, B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, Band of the Year (with The Painkillers), Contemporary Blues Album, and Blues Rock Artist. Castro previously won Band of the Year (2010), B.B. King Entertainer of the Year (2008 & 2010), was a two-time winner for Contemporary Blues Album (2010, 2008), as well as winning Contemporary Blues Male Artist (2010). This is Castro’s fourth nomination for the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award and his first nomination for Album of the Year.

And behind Tommy Castro in the nomination count is Tom Hambridge and Chris Cain, each receiving four nominations. Hambridge is up for Instrumentalist – Guitar, and has three entries for Song of the Year, a win he previously captured with a track co-written with Buddy Guy. Finishing the quadruplet nominations is Cain, with nods in both Contemporary categories (Male Artist and Blues Album). Further, this is Cain’s third nomination for Instrumental – Guitar and first nomination for Album of the Year (Raisin’ Cain).

Some of the past winners hoping to reclaim awards are Sugaray Rayford (B.B. King Entertainer of the Year), Eric Bibb (Acoustic Blues Artist), Mike Zito (Blues Rock Album), Kingfish (Contemporary Blues Album), Keb’ Mo’ (Acoustic Blues Artist), Ruthie Foster (Contemporary Blues Female Artist), Kim Wilson (Instrument – Harmonica), Danielle Nicole (Instrumentalist – Bass), and Kenny Neal (Contemporary Blues Male Artist).

Mike Finnigan, who passed away last August, was posthumously nominated for the Pinetop Perkins Player Award (Instrumentalist – Piano). In addition, Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra have been nominated for Album of the Year and Soul Blues Album for Not In My Lifetime. Walker passed in 2019 just three days after finishing the album’s recording session.

The International Blues Challenge (IBC), taking place this year from May 6-9, has proved to be a fertile breeding ground for up-and-coming blues artists. Previous IBC winners nominated for this year’s Blues Music Awards include Altered Five Blues Band, Selwyn Birchwood, Eden Brent, Kevin Burt, Zac Harmon, Diunna Greenleaf, Dave Keller, Dave Keyes, Mr. Sipp, J.P. Soars, Gabe Stillman, GA-20’s Matt Stubbs, and Jontavious Willis. Freshman BMA nominees who once competed as IBC Solo/Duo Challengers are Veronica Lewis and Memphissippi Sounds. Lewis is also the youngest nominee this year at just 18 years old.

The night before the BMAs, The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at Memphis’ Halloran Centre at the Orpheum (225 South Main Street). Following a 5:30pm cocktail reception, the inductions begin at the Halloran Theater. Tickets, which include ceremony and reception admission, begin at $75 each and, as with any other musical event or charitable donation, they are non-refundable. The 2022 class of inductees will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Blues Foundation enlists a group of approximately 100 blues nominators who work extensively in all areas of the blues industry. This includes individuals with blues expertise as producers, engineers, radio DJs, journalists, academics, club owners, promoters and others with a deep knowledge of blues music. The identity of the nominators is not made public in order to protect them from outside influences. Nominators must recuse themselves from any categories in which they have a conflict of interest.

The nominators work through two rounds in order to come up with between four and six final nominees in each category. During the first round, each nominator distributes 6 total points to their top choices within each category, with no more than 2 total points given to any single entry. The top entries in each category move into Round 2. The Blues Foundation does not publicize which recordings and/or artists move to Round 2. The nominators then repeat the point distribution for each category in a second round ballot and those artists and recordings receiving the most total points in each category become the final Nominees for Blues Music Awards.

The complete list of Blues Music Award nominees can be found below. The ballot will be open for voting to current Blues Foundation members only until 11:59 pm CST on Friday, March 18th. To become a Blues Foundation member, visit Upon membership confirmation, new and renewing members will be sent instructions on how to access the 2022 Blues Music Awards Ballot.

B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
Tommy Castro
Eric Gales
Mr. Sipp
J.P. Soars
Sugaray Rayford

Album of the Year
Holler If You Hear Me, Altered Five Blues Band
Not In My Lifetime, Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
Pinky’s Blues, Sue Foley
Raisin’ Cain, Chris Cain
Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came To Town, Tommy Castro

Band of the Year
Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
J.P. Soars and the Red Hots
Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials
Sugaray Rayford Band
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers

Song of the Year
“Fragile Peace and Certain War,” Written & Performed by Carolyn Wonderland
“Holler If You Hear Me,” written by Jeff Schroedl & Mark Solveson (performed by Altered Five Blues Band)
“I’d Climb Mountains,” Written & performed by Selwyn Birchwood
“Real Good Lie,” written by Christine Vitale, Larry Batiste & Anthony Paule (performed by Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra)
“Somewhere,” written by Tommy Castro & Tom Hambridge (performed by Tommy Castro & The Painkillers)

Best Emerging Artist Album
GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It… You Might Like It!, GA-20
Just Say The Word, Gabe Stillman
Live On Beale Street: A Tribute To Bobby “Blue” Bland, Rodd Bland and the Members Only Band
Welcome To The Land, Memphissippi Sounds
You Ain’t Unlucky, Veronica Lewis

Acoustic Blues Album
Dear America, Eric Bibb
Land of the Sky, Catfish Keith
Let’s Get Happy Together, Maria Muldaur
Let Loose These Chains, Hector Anchondo
The Trio Sessions, EG Kight

Blues Rock Album
Alafia Moon, Damon Fowler
Dance Songs For Hard Times, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
Resurrection, Mike Zito
Tinfoil Hat, Popa Chubby
Unemployed Highly Annoyed, Jeremiah Johnson

Contemporary Blues Album
662, Kingfish
Damage Control, Curtis Salgado
Holler If You Hear Me, Altered Five Blues Band
Raisin’ Cain, Chris Cain
Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came To Town, Tommy Castro

Soul Blues Album
Let’s Have A Party, Gerald McClendon
Long As I Got My Guitar, Zac Harmon
Not In My Lifetime, Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra
You Get What You Give: Duets, Dave Keller
You Gotta Have It, Tia Carroll

Traditional Blues Album
Be Ready When I Call You, Guy Davis
Bob Corritore & Friends: Spider In My Stew, Bob Corritore
Boogie w/ R.L. Boyce (Live), R.L. Boyce
Little Black Flies, Eddie 9V
Pinky’s Blues, Sue Foley

Acoustic Blues Artist
Eric Bibb
Kevin Burt
Guy Davis
Doug MacLeod
Keb’ Mo’

Blues Rock Artist
Albert Castiglia
Tommy Castro
Tinsley Ellis
Ana Popovic
Joanne Shaw Taylor

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Vanessa Collier
Thornetta Davis
Ruthie Foster
Danielle Nicole
Carolyn Wonderland

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Selwyn Birchwood
Chris Cain
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Kenny Neal
Mr. Sipp

Soul Blues Female Artist
Annika Chambers
Trudy Lynn
Terrie Odabi
Kat Riggins
Vaneese Thomas

Soul Blues Male Artist
William Bell
Don Bryant
John Nemeth
Johnny Rawls
Curtis Salgado

Traditional Blues Female Artist
Rory Block
Sue Foley
Rhiannon Giddens
Diunna Greenleaf
EG Kight

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Cedric Burnside
Super Chikan
Taj Mahal
Sugar Ray Norcia
Jontavious Willis

Instrumentalist – Bass
Willie J. Campbell
Larry Fulcher
Jerry Jemmott
Scot Sutherland
Danielle Nicole

Instrumentalist – Drums
Danny Banks
June Core
Tom Hambridge
Derrick D’Mar Martin
Chris Peet

Instrumentalist – Guitar
Christoffer “Kid” Andersen
Chris Cain
Laura Chavez
Anson Funderburgh
Eric Gales
J.P. Soars

Instrumentalist – Harmonica
Billy Branch
Bob Corritore
Jason Ricci
Brandon Santini
Kim Wilson

Instrumentalist – Horn
Mindi Abair
Jimmy Carpenter
Marc Franklin
Regi Oliver
Nancy Wright

Instrumentalist – Piano
Eden Brent
Mike Finnigan
Dave Keyes
Veronica Lewis
Jim Pugh

Instrumentalist – Vocals
Thornetta Davis
Ruthie Foster
John NemethTomm
Sugaray Rayford
Curtis Salgado

Major funding for the 43rd Blues Music Awards is provided by ArtsMemphis, Tennessee Arts Commission, and Memphis Tourism. Special thanks to partners Memphis Airport Authority and DittyTV.

Ticket sales are now open and can be purchased by clicking here.


The Blues Foundation

New Dates Set for International Blues Challenge in Memphis

New Dates Set for International Blues Challenge in Memphis

American Blues Scene Staff

Stay tuned for the updated IBC event schedule that includes workshops, panels, and showcases.

The Blues Foundation is excited to announce the new dates for the International Blues Challenge: May 6 – 9, 2022!!

It will be a full week of blues this May in Memphis as we celebrate the Blues Music Award nominees and winners on Thursday, May 5 and are Back On Beale with IBC beginning Friday, May 6.

IBC Important Dates:
Friday, May 6: Quarterfinals Night 1
Saturday, May 7: Quarterfinals Night 2
Sunday, May 8: KBA Ceremony, Youth Showcases, & Semifinals
Monday, May 9: IBC Finals at The Orpheum

Stay tuned for the updated IBC event schedule that includes workshops, panels, and showcases.

All previously purchased passes will be honored for the new dates, without any action on your part. Passes will now be mailed out in mid-April.

Room reservations can be updated and re-booked directly with the hotel.

Thank you for your patience and support during this transition. We hope to see you in Memphis this May!

To purchase IBC passes, click here:

The Blues Foundation

Patricia Wilson Aden Named New President & CEO of The Blues Foundation

Patricia Wilson Aden Named New President & CEO of The Blues Foundation

Cary Baker / Conqueroo

Aden, President and CEO of the African American Museum in Philadelphia and former Executive Director of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation to succeed Barbara Newman, who will be retiring.

Patricia Wilson Aden, New President & CEO, The Blues Foundation


The Blues Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Patricia Wilson Aden as its next President & CEO. Aden brings more than three decades of non-profit management experience to the Foundation, with a specialization in the preservation and celebration of African American cultural resources. Her most recent experience as President & CEO of the African American Museum in Philadelphia and her earlier role as Executive Director of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation make her uniquely qualified to lead The Blues Foundation and its Blues Hall of Fame. Aden stated, “I am genuinely excited to join The Blues Foundation and the Blues community in celebrating the Blues and the artists who have made it America’s original musical genre.”

Aden will join the Foundation’s staff on October 1, 2020.


Barbara Newman, retiring President & CEO, The Blues Foundation

  Aden succeeds Barbara Newman, who will begin her retirement September 30th. Under Newman’s leadership, The Blues Foundation saw marked growth in engagement and reach in all facets of the organization’s operations. She embraced technology to offer greater access to and programming of major Blues Foundation events, including The International Blues Challenge and Blues Music Awards, forged new industry alliances, and amplified awareness of organizational activities in fulfilling The Blues Foundation’s mission to preserve, celebrate, and expand awareness of the Blues genre.

 Most recently, she led the charge to develop a relief fund to provide financial support for basic living necessities to Blues musicians whose income streams have evaporated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the first of April, that fund has raised over $250,000 and assisted close to 250 musicians. Throughout her tenure, she has prioritized strong fiscal management and is leaving The Blues Foundation well-situated to further advance its mission under Aden’s leadership.

Michael Freeman, Chairman of The Blues Foundation’s Board of Directors, added, “On behalf of the global Blues community we wish Barbara Newman the very best for a wonderful retirement and with the greatest appreciation for her tireless dedication to The Blues Foundation as its President & CEO. Thanks to her vision and leadership we are well positioned to welcome Patty Aden as our new President & CEO to continue the forward movement of the organization. We are thrilled to have found such an experienced and well-respected leader and look forward to welcoming her on October 1st.”

Based in Memphis, Tenn., the home of the blues, The Blues Foundation is world-renowned as THE organization with a mission to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. With approximately 4,000 individual members and more than 170 affiliated local blues societies, it represents hundreds of thousands of blues fans and professionals around the world.

In addition to the Blues Music Awards, the Foundation’s other signature honors and events include the Blues Hall of Fame, Keeping the Blues Alive Awards, and the International Blues Challenge. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance and advocacy for blues musicians in need, while Generation Blues scholarships and Blues in the Schools programming expose new generations to blues music.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, The Blues Foundation has recently established the COVID-19 Blues Musician Emergency Relief Fund to provide financial support for basic necessities such as housing and utilities to blues musicians negatively impacted by the pandemic. The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame, opened more than five years ago, adds the opportunity for music lovers of all ages to interact with the music and the history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the worldwide blues community with answers, information, and news.

The Blues Foundation

Southern Avenue to Perform Two “Virtual Fest” Sets on Saturday April 18

Southern Avenue to Perform Two “Virtual Fest” Sets on Saturday April 18

Press Release

If you’ve seen them live, you know what to expect. If not, then hang on to your hat because Southern Avenue has TWO virtual fest performances this Saturday.

Fiery Memphis combo Southern Avenue will be performing two sets on Saturday, April 18th. Oh, and did we mention they are for two separate festivals?

The seeds for Southern Avenue’s birth were first planted when Ori Naftaly, who’d grown up in Israel with a deep-rooted passion for American soul, blues and funk, came to Memphis in 2013 to compete in the prestigious International Blues Challenge. Although his talents were embraced by American audiences, Naftaly felt constrained in his own band, feeling the need to embrace a more expansive musical vision.  That opportunity arrived when he met Tierinii Jackson, who’d gotten her start singing in church, before performing in a series of cover bands and theatrical projects. Despite not having a record deal at the time, Southern Avenue quickly found success touring in America and Europe. They won additional attention playing some high-profile festivals and making it to the finals in the International Blues Challenge.

On their self-titled 2017 debut album, the boundary-breaking Memphis combo sparked a one-band musical revolution, embodying an effortlessly organic soul/blues/R&B fusion that reflects the band members’ diverse roots as well as their deep commitment to their chosen style. On their second album Keep On, the dynamic outfit expanded its gritty musical vision to embrace new musical challenges and a more expansive creative vision.

If you’ve seen them live, you know what to expect. If not, then hang on to your hat because Southern Avenue has TWO virtual fest performances this Saturday. Here’s the info:

Mojo Station Blues Festival “MojoFest Lockdown Edition”

This is an actual festival in Rome and Southern Avenue is performing to help raise morale for their Italian music family that’s been quarantined for months already (and who have all lost people at this point due to COVID-19).

Southern Avenue performs at 12PM CDT (5PM GMT)

Other artists include Cedric Burnside, Fantastic Negrito, The Reverend Payton’s Big Damn Band and more.

Mojo Station Blues Festival


Sway-at-Home: A Virtual Music Festival Curated by Dustbowl RevivalThis event actually takes place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday April 17, 18 & 19Southern Avenue performs Saturday, 4/18 at 6:30PM CDT (11:30PM GMT)Other artists include Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Dustbowl Revival and more.Sway-At-Home Curated by Dustbowl Revival

Southern Avenue