27th Annual Living Blues Awards Winners Announced

27th Annual Living Blues Awards Winners Announced


JD Nash

Each year the Living Blues Awards are given in several categories in two polls; Critics’ Poll, and the Readers’ Poll.

It was 1993 when Living Blues Magazine first presented their Living Blues Awards. Founded in 1970 by future Blues Hall of Fame inductees Jim O’Neal and Amy van Singel. Living Blues is America’s oldest blues music publication and touted as the The Magazine of the African American Blues Tradition. Living Blues grew from a quarterly publication to a bi-monthly when O’Neal and van Singel sold their publication rights to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in 1983.

Each year the Living Blues Awards are given in several categories in two polls; Critics’ Poll, and the Readers’ Poll. Although categories may be duplicated in the various polls, the results obviously can differ.

Here are the winners of the 27th Annual Living Blues Awards for 2020:

Critics’ Poll

Blues Artist of the Year (Male)
Bobby Rush

Blues Artist of the Year (Female)
Shemekia Copeland

Most Outstanding Blues Singer
Mavis Staples

Most Outstanding Musician (Guitar)
Jimmy Johnson

Most Outstanding Musician (Harmonica)
Billy Branch

Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboard)
Marcia Ball

Most Outstanding Musician (Bass)
Benny Turner

Most Outstanding Musician (Drums)
Cedric Burnside

Most Outstanding Musician (Horns)
The Texas Horns: Kaz Kazanoff, John Mills, and Al Gomez

Most Outstanding Musician (Other)
Rhiannon Giddens – Banjo

Best Live Performer
Bobby Rush

Comeback Artist of the Year
Mary Lane

Artist Deserving More Attention
Crystal Thomas

Best Blues Albums of 2019

Album of the Year
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Kingfish
(Alligator)

New Recordings / Contemporary Blues
Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues
Roots and Branches: The Songs of Little Walter
(Alligator)

New Recordings / Southern Soul
Annika Chambers
Kiss My Sass
(VizzTone)

New Recordings / Best Debut
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Kingfish
(Alligator)

New Recordings / Traditional & Acoustic
Jontavious Willis
Spectacular Class
(Kind of Blue Music)

Historical / Pre-war
Various Artists
“It’s the Best Stuff Yet!”
(Frog Records)

Historical / Postwar
Various Artists
Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records—The Definitive Collection
(Earwig Records)

Blues Book of the Year
Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
By Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow
Chicago Review Press

Producer of the Year: New Recording
Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell
Songs of Our Native Daughters
(Smithsonian Folkways)

Producer of the Year: Historical Recording
Michael Frank
Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records—The Definitive Collection
(Earwig Records)

Readers’ Poll

Blues Artist of the Year (Male)
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Blues Artist of the Year (Female)
Mavis Staples

Most Outstanding Musician (Guitar)
Keb’ Mo’

Most Outstanding Musician (Harmonica)
Charlie Musselwhite

Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboard)
Marcia Ball

Best Live Performer
Buddy Guy

Most Outstanding Blues Singer
Buddy Guy

Best Blues Album of 2019 (New Release)
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Kingfish
(Alligator)

Best Blues Album of 2019 (Historical Recording)
Muddy Waters
The Complete Plantation Recordings: The Historic 1941–42 Library of Congress Field Recordings
(Analogue Productions)

Best Blues Book of 2019
Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
By Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow
Chicago Review Press

Congratulations to the all of this year’s winners!

Living Blues

Brother Robert Growing Up with Robert Johnson

Brother Robert Growing Up with Robert Johnson


Press Release

This intimate memoir by blues legend Robert Johnson’s stepsister includes new details about his family, music, influences, tragic death, and musical afterlife.

Though only twenty-seven years young and relatively unknown at the time of his tragic death in 1938, Robert Johnson’s enduring recordings have solidified his status as a progenitor of the Delta Blues style. And yet, while his music has retained the steadfast devotion of modern listeners, much remains unknown about the man who penned and played these timeless tunes. Few people alive today actually remember what Johnson was really like, and those who do have largely upheld their silence — until now.

Image credit: Hachette Books

 

Written by Johnson’s stepsister Annye C. Anderson with Preston Lauterbach, the book also contains a Forward by Elijah Wald who wrote Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues, and several other titles.

In Brother Robert Growing Up with Robert Johnson, nonagenarian Mrs. Anderson (as she prefers to be called) sheds new light on a real-life figure largely obscured by his own legend: her kind and incredibly talented stepbrother, Robert Johnson. This book chronicles Johnson’s unconventional path to stardom — from the harrowing story behind his illegitimate birth, to his first strum of the guitar on Anderson’s father’s knee, to the genre-defining recordings that would one day secure his legacy.

Along the way, Anderson not only shares personal anecdotes, but also colorful recollections of Johnson passed down by members of their family — the people who knew him best. She also outlines the contours of Johnson’s working life in Memphis, never-before-disclosed details about his romantic history, and all of his favorite things, from foods and entertainers to brands of tobacco and pomade. Together, these stories don’t just bring the mythologized Johnson back down to earth; they preserve both his memory and his integrity.

For decades, Anderson and her family have ignored the tall tales of Johnson “selling his soul to the devil” and the speculative to fictionalized accounts of his life that passed for biography. Brother Robert is here to set the record straight. Featuring a foreword by Elijah Wald and a Q&A with Anderson, Lauterbach, Wald, and Peter Guralnick, this book paints a vivid portrait of an elusive figure who forever changed the musical landscape as we know it.

In a new twist, Vanity Fair  ran an Exclusive First Look at a never before published THIRD photo of Johnson, set to be the cover image. The article also contained Anderson’s remembrance of when the photo was taken.

There was a make-your-own-photo place on Beale Street, near Hernando Street. I’ve since learned that a man named John Henry Evans owned it. The photo place was right next door to Pee Wee’s, the bar where Mr. Handy wrote his blues. One day when I was 10 or 11 years old, I walked there with Sister Carrie and Brother Robert. I remember him carrying his guitar and strumming as we went. You just walk in, drop a nickel in the slot, pull the curtain, and do it. There was no photographer. I had my picture made. Brother Robert got in the booth, and evidently made a couple.

It shows Brother Robert the way I remember him—open, kind, and generous.He doesn’t look like the man of all the legends, the man described as a drunkard and a fighter by people who didn’t really know him. This is my Brother Robert.

I kept Brother Robert’s photograph in my father’s trunk that sat in the hallway of the Comas house while we lived there with my mother after my father died. After my mother died, we could only take so many things. I took my photographs with me, wrapped in a handkerchief. I only carried a few belongings to Ma and Pops Thompson’s house. When I moved in with my sister Charlyne, I bought some furniture. I stored the photograph, along with others, in a cedar chest I bought. I’ve always had this photograph.

Published by Hachette Books, Brother Robert Growing Up with Robert Johnson goes on sale June 9th wherever books are sold.

*Feature image Hachett Books