By Ron Wynn
Shemekia Copeland has more than upheld the grand blues tradition of her late superstar father Johnny Copeland. Sunday she was the biggest winner at the 2021 Blues Music Awards (BMAs) among those honored in 25 categories. The 42nd annual ceremonies coincide with the 42 annual celebration of Black Music Month. Copeland won the top honor, the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award. She also repeated as Contemporary Blues Female Artist award winner from 2020, and her LP “Uncivil War” earned Contemporary Blues Album honors as well.
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram continued his winning streak from 2020 with two 2021 awards. He won Contemporary Blues Male Artist and Instrumentalist – Guitar. 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. Mike Zito 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 Hall of Famers Bettye LaVette won for Soul Blues Female Artist and Bobby Rush for Acoustic Blues Album with “Rawer than Raw.” Kenny “Beady Eyes” Smith, Instrumentalist – Drum winner, continued the blues legacy of his father, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, who won 16 BMAs. King Solomon Hicks was awarded Best Emerging Artist Album for “Harlem.” Other winners included Rick Estrin & the Nightcats’ for Band of the Year and Walter Trout for Song of the Year, “All Out of Tears.”
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.”