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2021 Blues Music Award Winners Announced by the Blues Foundation


Shemekia Copeland



Shemekia Copeland, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Mike Zito and album Rock ‘n’ Roll: Tribute to Chuck Berry Win Multiple Awards


Virtual show features performances by ”Kingfish” along with past BMA winners


Bobby Rush, Watermelon Slim, Southern Avenue, Don Bryant,

Shaun Murphy and John Németh & the Blue Dreamers



Shemekia Copeland was the show’s big winner, snagging three awards including the coveted B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award. Copeland was recognized with the Contemporary Blues Female Artist award as she was in 2020, and also took the prize for Contemporary Blues Album, with Uncivil War. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram continued his winning streak from 2020 when he won five awards with two 2021 awards, winning both Contemporary Blues Male Artist and Instrumentalist – Guitar. Blues fans tuning into the show were wowed by two stellar performances by “Kingfish” and heard his heartfelt personal acceptance speeches. Other multiple award winners were Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite, whose album, 100 Years of Blues, won awards for Album of the Year and Traditional Blues Album, and Mike Zito, who won in the Blues Rock Artist category as well as the Blues Rock Album category for Mike Zito and Friends – Rock ‘n’ Roll: A Tribute to Chuck Berry.


Blues’ intergenerational traditions were underscored when Blues Hall of Famers Bettye LaVette won for Soul Blues Female Artist and Bobby Rush took the prize for Acoustic Blues Album with Rawer than Raw. Rush, who performed during the show, appeared onstage to accept his award. Kenny “Beady Eyes” Smith, Instrumentalist – Drum winner, continued the blues legacy of his father, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, who won 16 BMAs. Newcomer King Solomon Hicks was awarded Best Emerging Artist Album for Harlem. Other standouts included Rick Estrin & the Nightcats’ win for Band of the Year and Walter Trout’s win for Song of the Year, “All Out of Tears.”


The show’s host, perennial favourite, Big Llou, kept the show moving with his trademark spirited banter. In addition to the tremendous performances by Bobby Rush and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, viewers were treated to outstanding performances by past BMA winners John Németh & the Blue Dreamers, Shaun Murphy, Don Bryant, Watermelon Slim, and Southern Avenue. Memphis’ heritage as “The Home of the Blues” was showcased when Rodd Bland, son of Blues Hall of Famer Bobby “Blue” Bland, and the famed Royal Studio family, Boo, Yvonne, and Lorraine Mitchell appeared to announce the BMA winners.


The Blues Foundation’s President Patricia Wilson Aden stated, “We are proud to continue the Blues Music Awards’ time-honoured tradition in 2021. Although we were not able to gather for a live performance, the global blues community came together virtually for an awesome celebration of the best of the blues. We applaud all of this year’s winners and are grateful for the support of everyone who made the 42nd Blues Music Awards a one-of-a-kind experience.”


Keb' Mo'



2021 Blues Music Awards Winners


B.B. King Entertainer of the Year

Shemekia Copeland

Album of the Year

100 Years of Blues - Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite

Band of the Year

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats


Song of the Year

“All Out of Tears” - written by Walter Trout, Marie Trout, and Teeny Tucker

(performed by Walter Trout)


Best Emerging Artist Album

Harlem, King Solomon Hicks


Acoustic Blues Album

Rawer Than Raw, Bobby Rush

Blues Rock Album

Mike Zito and Friends - Rock ‘n’ Roll: A Tribute to Chuck Berry, Mike Zito

Contemporary Blues Album

Uncivil War, Shemekia Copeland


Soul Blues Album

That's What I Heard, Robert Cray Band


Traditional Blues Album

100 Years of Blues, Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite


Acoustic Blues Artist

Keb' Mo'


Blues Rock Artist

Mike Zito


Contemporary Blues Female Artist

Shemekia Copeland


Contemporary Blues Male Artist

Christone "Kingfish" Ingram


Soul Blues Female Artist

Bettye LaVette


Soul Blues Male Artist

Curtis Salgado


Traditional Blues Female Artist (Koko Taylor Award)

Rory Block


Traditional Blues Male Artist

John Primer


Instrumentalist - Bass

Danielle Nicole


Instrumentalist - Drums

Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith


Instrumentalist - Guitar

Christone "Kingfish" Ingram


Instrumentalist - Harmonica

Kim Wilson


Instrumentalist - Horn

Jimmy Carpenter


Instrumentalist - Piano (Pinetop Perkins Piano Player Award)

Anthony Geraci


Instrumentalist - Vocals

Ruthie Foster


Christone "Kingfish" Ingram



The Blues Foundation is a world-renowned Memphis-based organization whose mission is 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. Founded in 1980, the Foundation has approximately 4,000 individual members and 180 affiliated blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals worldwide. Its signature honours and events — the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame inductions, International Blues Challenge, and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards – make it the international hub of blues music. The Blues Foundation’s COVID – 19 Blues Musician Relief Fund and HART Fund provide financial and medical assistance for musicians in need, while Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues Scholarships expose new generations to blues music. The Blues Hall of Fame Museum, located in Downtown Memphis, adds the opportunity for blues lovers of all ages to interact with blues music and history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the global blues community with answers, information, and news.



Website: blues.org



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