Blues Awards Nominees Announced

Blues Award nominee and Hall of Famer Mavis Staples at Bluesfest 2019.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An impressive assembly of blues music masters, ranging from Blues Hall of Famers to rising stars, will gather in Memphis on Thursday May 7, for the 41st 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, recognised internationally as the blues world’s premier event, not only attracts nearly all the nominees, but also presents them in performance.

Topping the list of talented BMA contenders are Rick Estrin and his band Rick Estrin & the Nightcats, with eight nominations. It’s a familiar situation for Estrin and the group as they garnered eight overall nominations two years ago, which led to a trio of BMA victories (Band of the Year, Song of the Year, and Traditional Blues Artist). This year, they are again up for their 2018 winning categories along with Contemporary Blues Album (for their aptly named Contemporary). Additionally, Estrin has earned B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and Instrumentalist: Harmonica nominations, while guitarist Christoffer “Kid” Andersen and drummer Derrick D’Mar Martin are in the running for their respective instrumental categories. 

The B.B. King Entertainer of the Year category includes Blues Hall of Famers Mavis Staples, Bobby Rush and Billy Branch (who will also be inducted into The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame the day before the Blues Music Awards along with Bettye LaVette who is nominated for Soul Blues Female).  

The 2020 nominations prove that the blues is very much alive and well. In addition to Kingfish’s five nominations, numerous award nominations are also going to young blues artists, including Jontavious Willis, nominated in two categories (Best Emerging Artist Album and Traditional Blues Album, for Spectacular); Larkin Poe, nominated for Band of the Year, with bandmember Rebecca Lovell receiving a nod for Song of the year for “Beach Blonde Bottle Blues”; Samantha Fish, up for Contemporary Blues Female Artist; Annika Chambers, trying to reclaim her Soul Blues Female Artist Award; and 2018 Best Emerging Artists Southern Avenue, nominated this year in the Soul Blues Album category for Keep On.  


Acoustic Blues Album
Catfish Crawl
Catfish Keith
Confessin’ My Dues
Terry Robb
Good as Your Last Dollar,
Fruteland Jackson
Solo Ride
Bruce Katz
This Guitar and Tonight
Bob Margolin

Acoustic Blues Artist
Eric Bibb
Guy Davis
Rhiannon Giddens
Fruteland Jackson
Doug MacLeod

Album of the Year
Church of the Blues
Watermelon Slim
Hail to The Kings!
The Cash Box Kings
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
The Preacher, The Politician or
The Pimp

Toronzo Cannon
Roots and Branches: The Songs of Little Walter
Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues

B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
Billy Branch
Rick Estrin
Sugaray Rayford
Bobby Rush
Mavis Staples

Band of the Year
The Cash Box Kings
The Nick Moss Band
featuring Dennis Gruenling
Rick Estrin and the Nightcats
Southern Avenue
Sugaray Rayford Band

Best Emerging Artist Album
Before Me
Ben Levin
Folie a deux
Hudspeth & Taylor
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Spectacular Class
Jontavious Willis
Through My Eyes
John “Blues” Boyd

Blues Rock Album
Killin’ It Live
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers
Albert Castiglia
Reckless Heart
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Survivor Blues
Walter Trout
Up and Rolling
North Mississippi Allstars

Blues Rock Artist
Albert Castiglia
Tommy Castro
Tinsley Ellis
Eric Gales
Walter Trout

Contemporary Blues Album
Rick Estrin and The Nightcats
Don’t Pass Me By: A Tribute to Sean Costello
Various Artists
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
The Preacher, The Politician or The Pimp
Toronzo Cannon
Venom & Faith
Larkin Poe

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Diane Blue
Vanessa Collier
Shemekia Copeland
Samantha Fish
Janiva Magness

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Toronzo Cannon
Gary Clark Jr.
Luther Dickinson
Rick Estrin
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Song of the Year
“Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues”
written by Rebecca Lovell
“Lucky Guy”
written by Nick Moss
“Resentment File”
written by Rick Estrin, Joe Louis Walker, and JoJo Russo
“Time To Get Movin’”
written by Eric Corne
“The Wine Talkin’”
written by Joe Nosek, John Hahn, and
Oscar Wilson

Soul Blues Album
Dog Eat Dog
Billy Price
Keep On
Southern Avenue
Real Street
Tad Robinson
Sitting on Top of the Blues
Bobby Rush
Somebody Save Me
Sugaray Rayford

Soul Blues Female Artist
Annika Chambers
Thornetta Davis
Bettye LaVette
Terrie Odabi
Vaneese Thomas

Soul Blues Male Artist
Billy Price
Sugaray Rayford
Tad Robinson
Curtis Salgado
Wee Willie Walker

Traditional Blues Album
Church of the Blues
Watermelon Slim
Hail to the Kings!
The Cash Box Kings
Lucky Guy!
The Nick Moss Band Featuring Dennis Gruenling
Roots and Branches – The Songs of Little Walter
Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues
Spectacular Class
Jontavious Willis

Traditional Blues Female Artist
Koko Taylor Award
Rory Block
Sue Foley
Mary Lane
Trudy Lynn
Teeny Tucker

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Lurrie Bell
Billy Branch
John Primer
Jimmie Vaughan
Jontavious Willis

Instrumentalist Bass
Willie J. Campbell
Patrick Rynn
Bill Stuve
Larry Taylor
Michael “Mudcat” Ward

Instrumentalist Drums
Tony Braunagel
Cedric Burnside
June Core
Derrick D’Mar Martin
Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

Instrumentalist Guitar
Christoffer “Kid” Andersen
Laura Chavez
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Junior Watson
“Monster” Mike Welch

Instrumentalist Harmonica
Billy Branch
Rick Estrin
Dennis Gruenling
Brandon Santini
Kim Wilson

Instrumentalist Horn
Mindi Abair
Jimmy Carpenter
Vanessa Collier
Trombone Shorty
Nancy Wright

Instrumentalist Piano
Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Anthony Geraci
Bruce Katz
Dave Keyes
Jim Pugh
Victor Wainwright

Instrumentalist Vocals
Shemekia Copeland
Sugaray Rayford
Curtis Salgado
Mavis Staples
Dawn Tyler Watson