The Sound Cafe
Grammy Nominated Blues Rocker Kenny Neal Inks Management Deal with The Professional Group
By Pati deVries. Photo Credit: Radim Malíček
Kenny Neal is pleased to announce that he has inked a management deal with The Professional Group, LLC, headed up by Terry Harvey. Harvey states, "Kenny is a unique talent, whose accomplishments are incomparable. We are thrilled to have him as a client."
One of the strongest modern proponents of Baton Rouge swamp blues, Kenny Neal is a second-generation southern Louisiana bluesman who is cognizant of the region’s venerable blues tradition and imaginative enough to steer it in fresh directions.
Neal was born on October 14, 1957 in New Orleans. His dad, harpist Raful Neal, was a Baton Rouge blues mainstay whose pals included Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo (the latter gave three-year-old Kenny his first harmonica). At age 13, Neal was playing in his father’s band, and at 17, landed a job playing bass for Buddy Guy.
The guitarist recruited some of his talented siblings to form the Neal Brothers Blues Band up in Toronto (brother Noel later played bass behind James Cotton; five other Neal brothers also play in various bands) before returning stateside. In 1987, Kenny Neal cut his debut LP for Florida producer Bob Greenlee, an updated swamp feast initially released by Kingsnake Records as Bio on the Bayou. The following year, Alligator Records signed Neal and reissued the debut under the title Big News from Baton Rouge!! Young Neal was on his way.
Neal’s sizzling guitar work, sturdy harp, and gravelly, aged-beyond-his-years vocals served him well, and he cut four albums for Alligator Records between 1989 and 1994. An acclaimed 1991 stint on Broadway in a production of Mule Bone found him performing acoustic versions of Langston Hughes’ poetry set to music by Taj Mahal.
In 1998, Neal moved from Alligator to the blues division of the jazz-based Telarc Records, releasing three albums for the label: Blues Fallin’ Down Like Rain (1998), What You Got (2000), and One Step Closer (2001). In the new millennium, Neal recorded sets for a variety of independent labels, including Easy Meeting (a 2003 collaboration with Billy Branch), Double Take (2004, a one-shot return to Alligator), and A Tribute to Slim Harpo and Raful Neal (released in 2005 for True Life Entertainment). Three years later, Neal hooked up with Blind Pig Records and released Let Life Flow in 2008, once again incorporating his gritty Louisiana roots with a sophisticated Chicago/Memphis soul approach. A second Blind Pig release, Hooked on Your Love, appeared two years later in 2010.
In 2015, Neal released his first holiday-themed album, I’ll Be Home for Christmas. It was his first album for Cleopatra Records, which also issued his critically acclaimed release, Bloodline in 2016.
Kenny’s 2016 release, Bloodline, was nomimated for a 2017 Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album and also won two 2017 BMAs (Blues Music Awards); one for Best Contemporary Blues Album and the other for Best Contemporary Male Blues Artist. In October 2019 Kenny launched his new BOOGA MUSIC label, His flagship release was Brody Buster’s One Man Band, whom Kenny signed and recorded.
Neil recently joined forces with Stevie Wonder, Bobby Rush and Marlon Jackson on Tito Jackson's new single, "Love One Another." He's currently putting the finishing touches on his next effort for a new label, to be announced in the not too distant future.
2011 - Inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame
2005 - Official Statement to Kenny Neal, by the Governor of Louisiana
1993 - Washington, D.C., USIA Certificate of Appreciation for representing the U.S. with Kenny Neal's Blues Band for tour in Africa
2019 - Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year
2011 - Jus' Blues Music Foundation Contemporary/Traditional Blues Song Of The Year for "Hooked on Your Love"
2011 - Critic's Poll Living Blues Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album of the Year
2009 - Monterey Bay Blues (M.O.B.B.A.Y.) Artist of the Year Award
2009 - Blues Music Award winner for Song of the Year, "Let Life Flow"
2009 - West Coast Blues Hall of Fame Awards for Blues CD of the Year "Let Life Flow" and Blues Band of the Year
2009 - Blueswax Album of the Year "Let Life Flow"
2008 - Blues Critic Awards Readers Poll, Blues Album of the Year "Let Life Flow" and also Contemporary Blues Artist of the Year
2008 - Jus' Blues Awards "Junior Wells Harp Award"
2008 - Hometown Video Awards, Entertainment Talk Show
2007 - W.A.V.E. Award, Talk Show-Entertainment/Pro
2005 - W.C. Handy Blues Awards - Acoustic Blues Album
2003 - Slim Harpo Award in Baton Rouge
1994 - Theatre World Award "Outstanding New Talent" on Broadway
1989 - Big Bill Broonzy Award in Paris
1989 - JD Miller Award "Outstanding Performance"
2016 - Grammy Nomination for Bloodline - "Best Contemporary Blues Album"
2009 - Grammy nominations in four categories
1999 - Grammy Nomination for Tribute to Howlin' Wolf - "Best Traditional Blues Album"