The Blues Foundation has announced the first round of performers for the 30th annual Blues Music Awards, where B.B. King will present the inaugural “B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award.” These performers below are just the first to be announced as part of a six-plus hour blues marathon taking May 7 in Memphis, TN at the Cook Convention Center, representing the supreme diversity of blues talent gathered together, often in all-star collaborations. All performers are also nominated for 2009 Blues Music Awards except Taj Mahal:
* Bettye LaVette – Detroit-born singer has performed at the Kennedy Center and at Obama’s inauguration and counts a #1 Blues Album on the Billboard chart in her storied career.
* Taj Mahal – beloved 2009 Blues Hall of Fame inductee and GRAMMY winner with a four-decade-plus career.
* Irma Thomas – newly minted Blues Hall of Famer and GRAMMY winner is “The Soul Queen of New Orleans.”
* Otis Taylor – the banjo-toting trance-blues man and “one of the most innovative, thought-provoking blues artists to emerge in the last 20 years.” (Billboard).
* Marcia Ball – piano player/singer counts #1 Blues Albums, of whom Rolling Stone said, “Her songs ring with emotional depth.”
* A Chicago Blues Jam with drummer Kenny Smith, drummer/harmonica player Willie Big Eyes Smith (Muddy Waters), bassist Bob Stroger (Otis Rush), guitarist Lurrie Bell (Carrie Bell, Buddy Guy), and others.
* Gaye Adegbalola – acclaimed singer and member of Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women, blues historian, and openly gay activist.
* Rory Block – slide guitar player/singer learned directly from Son House and has been called “an inspiration” by Bonnie Raitt.
* Albert Castiglia – Miami-based and a former member of Junior Well’s band.
* Janiva Magness – blues/soul songstress of whom No Depression said, “She simply sings heartbreak, hunger and humor–sings ’em with equally great chops and feeling–and lets that speak for itself.”
* Kenny Neal – son of Louisiana harmonica great Raful Neal and “one of the brightest young stars on the blues horizon, and a gifted artist” (Blues Revue).
* Maria Muldaur – has scored a platinum record and has recorded with the likes of Ry Cooder and Stevie Wonder.
* Eden Brent – Mississippi piano player nicknamed “Little Boogaloo,” performed at President Bush’s inauguration in 2005, and won the International Blues Competition in 2006.
* The Mannish Boys – this LA-based “electric blues supergroup” (All Music Guide)
For a complete list of the 30th Blues Music Awards Nominees, click here