The 32nd Annual Blues Music Awards were handed out in Memphis, Tennessee on May 5. The evening had some big winners while the Blues Hall of Fame gained some new members.
Guitar master Buddy Guy took home five Blues Music Awards, including Song of the Year and Album of the Year, “Living Proof.” He also won for Contemporary Blues Album, Contemporary Blues Artist and Entertainer of the Year.
This year’s inductees into the Blues Hall of Fame, honored during a ceremony on May 4, included Robert Cray, John Hammond, Big Maybelle, Alberta Hunter, J.B. Lenoir, and singer-songwriter Denise LaSalle.
LaSalle, 71, says her sound has always been a mix of blues, soul and R&B, which made her difficult to categorize at the beginning of her career.
“I used to be called an R&B singer and we then we got pushed into a category of blues singer," she said. "And then the blues people didn’t really want to accept my music as blues. I said, ‘What am I then?’ So, we got the title ‘soul blues’ and we went ahead with soul blues. And then I started doing more and more blues, and everybody started saying, ‘Hey, you’re a blues singer.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll be a blues singer. It’s alright with me.’”
Denise LaSalle is best-remembered for her 1971 million-selling single, “Trapped By A Thing Called Love,” a hit, she says, because of some last minute advice in the studio from legendary producer Willie Mitchell.
“I wanted to go back and do some vocals over again. There was something I wanted to do that I forgot to do," she said. "And Willie Mitchell said, ‘You’re not going to touch this Denise. This is a smash. This is perfect. Leave it alone.’ He said, ‘I’m not going to record anything over. If you want somebody else to cut it you’ve got to go to another studio. You can’t do it here. I said, ‘If this man thinks that much of this tune I’m going to take his word for it and leave it alone.’”
The 2011 Blues Music Awards featured a total of 26 categories. Other major winners included John Hammond for Acoustic Artist of the Year; The Nighthawks for Acoustic Album of the Year - “Last Train To Bluesville”; Matt Hill for Best New Artist Debut; Charlie Musselwhite for Traditional Blues - Male Artist of the Year and Best Instrumentalist - Harmonica; Ruthie Foster for Traditional Blues - Female Artist of the Year; and the Derek Trucks Band for Band of the Year. Posthumous honors went to Solomon Burke, Pinetop Perkins and Robin Rogers.
For a complete list of winners visit The Blues Foundation.