2021 Blues Music Awards winners announced

MEMPHIS, TN. (June 6, 2021) – The irrepressible spirit of the blues was on full display during The Blues Foundation’s 42nd Blues Music Awards (BMAs) presented by Global Electronic Technology when winners across twenty-five (25) categories were announced. Broadcasted virtually due to COVID precautions, the show’s highlights included heartfelt video statements from many of the winners as well as lively performances from several past BMA winning artists. Awarded by The Blues Foundation’s members, the BMAs are widely recognized as the highest honor given to blues musicians. The 42nd Blues Music Awards coincides with the 42nd annual celebration of Black Music Month which recognizes the immeasurable influence of Black artists and their music on America’s musical traditions.

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 favorite, 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-honored 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.”

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

14 thoughts on “2021 Blues Music Awards winners announced

  • June 6, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Excuse me! You left out the best female Blues voice in the last 10 years by snubbing Beth Hart. Because of covid this year she was unable to tour and record music. Look her up. Another top of the list should k d be Joe Bonamassa.,,. Maybe you can still add them? Lol. Seriously folks. Those 2 blues artists should not be snubbed off any blues awards

      • June 7, 2021 at 9:01 am

        I agree totally what Chrissy mentioned. Those 2 Artists should be not missing in here.

  • June 6, 2021 at 8:20 pm

    What about Joe Bonamassa , Elle’s Bailey , When Rivers Meet …..

  • June 6, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    What about “Dion: Blues With Friends”… The Billboard top selling blues album of 2020?!

  • June 6, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    Absolutely missing is Savoy Brown !

  • June 6, 2021 at 11:16 pm

    Shame on the BMAs for the treatment of Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his father.

    • June 7, 2021 at 4:15 am

      Feels like ulterior motive from here

  • June 7, 2021 at 2:05 am

    Seriously!! When river’s meet, bet hart & joe bonamassa should not be left out!

  • June 7, 2021 at 3:30 am

    Some ridiculous choices and equally ridiculous omissions. Unfortunately this devalues the awards and makes them irrelevant.

  • June 7, 2021 at 9:28 am

    What kind of game are they playing,where are the blues artists we really listen to

  • June 7, 2021 at 9:40 am

    As a lot of people have already stated, what about When Rivers Meet (winners of 4 blues awards in the UK last month), Elles Bailey (another winner in the UK awards). , Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart. Very poor to leave such hugely talented & deserved artists out of this years categories. Hang your heads in shame I say!!!

  • June 8, 2021 at 9:06 am

    And no place or mention for Marcus King, are you crazy….

  • June 8, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    I totally agree with the statements above… Who listens to the winners? NOT ME!!! I listen to Joe Bonamassa,Beth Hart, Kenny Wayne Sheppard. What about Gary Clark Jr!!!


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