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They Got The Blues–And That’s Good

The winners of the Blues Foundation’s 22nd Annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards have been announced. The May 24 event, hosted by Dr. John in Memphis, Tenn., honored an array of folks who’ve got it bad, but in a good way–well, at least in a good enough way to have won an award. In other words, they’ve got the blues, but not so badly that they can’t pick up their instruments and sing about ’em really well–the blues that is.

B.B. King (pictured left), Shemekia Copeland and Etta James were the biggest winners. Multiple honors were bestowed upon B.B. King for Blues Entertainer of the Year, and Contemporary Blues Album with Eric Clapton for Riding With the King. The Best Contemporary Female artist award went to Shemekia Copeland, who also came in a winner for the Blues Album of the Year category for Wicked. Etta James was honored for Soul Female Artist of the Year, and her life long contribution was recognized with her induction into The Blues Hall of Fame.

One of the highlights of the night was a surprise appearance by the beloved Ruth Brown, who joined Rufus Thomas, one of the night’s Hall of Fame Inductees, to present the night’s final award.

Here’s the complete list of winners:
Blues Song of the Year: Rick Vito “It’s 2 a.m.”
Blues Band of the Year: Taj Mahal & The Phantom Blues Band
Traditional Blues Album: Son Seals Letting Go
Acoustic Blues Album: Robert Lockwood Jr. Delta Crossroads
Historical Album: Otis Spann/Last Call Mr. Cat Music
Soul Male Artist of the Year: Little Milton
Comeback Blues Album: Mel Brown Neck Bones & Caviar
Soul Blues Album: Irma Thomas My Heart Is In Memphis
Blues Album of the Year: Shemekia Copeland Wicked
Contemporary Male Artist: Eddy Clearwater
Traditional Female Artist: Koko Taylor
Acoustic Blues Artist: Keb’ Mo’
Blues Entertainer of the Year: B. B. King
Contemporary Blues Album: B.B. King/Eric Clapton, Riding with the King
Contemporary Female Artist: Shemekia Copeland
Soul Female Artist of the Year: Etta James
Traditional Male Artist: James Cotton
Best New Artist Debut: North Mississippi Allstars, Shake Hands With Shorty
Blues Instrumentalist Guitar: Duke Robillard
Blues Instrumentalist Harmonica: Charlie Musselwhite
Blues Instrumentalists Bass: Willie Kent
Blues Instrumentalists Drums: Chris Layton
Blues Instrumentalists Horns: Roomful Of Blues Horns
Blues Instrumentalists Keyboard: Pinetop Perkins
Blues Instrumentalists Other: Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Fiddle

Originally Published