Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, Booker T & The MGs Inductions Highlight Memphis Blues Music Week

Blues Music Awards 2019
– Blues Music Awards 2019

Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, Ida Cox, Pee Wee Crayton and Booker T. & The MG’s take their places in the 40th class of the Blues Hall of Fame with an induction ceremony Wednesday May 8 at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts in Memphis, Tenn.

The Hall of Fame event is a highlight of the Blues Foundation’s annual Blues Music Week in Memphis, which will include the Blues Music Awards May 9 at Cook Convention Center, as well as the opening of new exhibit at the Blues Hall of Fame Museum – The Blues According To Arhoolie, a memorabilia- and history-packed exhibition that kicks off with an appearance by Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz .

There’s also panels of definite interest to blues aficionados. The Blues Foundation on May 9 curates a special BMA panel at the BMA host hotel, the Sheraton Memphis Downtown.  “The Blues and Race – Part II” is a continuation of the keynote panel at January’s International Blues Challenge.

Dr. Noelle Trent, the Director of Interpretation, Collections and Education at the National Civil Rights Museum, will moderate the discussion of the historical significance of race within the blues genre and what the future holds for the next generation with artists Bobby Rush, Billy Branch, Thornetta Davis, Terrie Odabie and festival promoter Paul Benjamin.

The Blues Hall Of Fame covers five key areas of the blues world: performers; individuals from business, production, media or academia; classics of blues recordings (single and album) and classics of blues literature.

Among the non-performer categories are Folkways Records founder Moses “Moe” Asch, singles B.B. King’s “Every Day I have the Blues,” Muddy Water’s “Rollin’ Stone,” Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman,” Bessie Smith’s “The St. Louis Blues,” and Elmore James’ “Shake Your Money Maker” as well as his album The Sky Is Crying.

Steven Van Zandt
Courtesy Conqueroo
– Steven Van Zandt
Steven Van Zandt hosts the 2018 Blues Music Awards

The 40th Blues Music Awards is sure to be a hot ticket, hosted by Steven Van Zandt and featuring presenters including Maria Muldaur, Colin James, Latimore and Steppenwolf’s John Kay. Among the top nominees for BMAs are keyboardist Anthony Geraci, singer Shemekia Copeland, guitarist Nick Moss.

Blues icons Bobby Rush, Joe Louis Walker and Buddy Guy are also up for awards as are many other top blues artists, many of whom will perform during the evening.

The Blues Music Foundation’s mission of preserving the blues heritage and supporting blues musicians through the BMA HART Fund is on full display during Blues Music Week, with musician health screenings taking place at the Memphis Sheraton Downtown on May 9 and closing out May 10 with a benefit concert at the Memphis Hard Rock Café. And of course, Beale Street clubs will be rocking from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. with BMA Fest live performances. Wristbands are available on Beale Street all day long for $10.