Last night in Memphis the Blues Foundation held it 37th annual Blues Music Awards. Formerly known as the W. C. Handy Awards in honor of Memphis transplant and trumpet player known as the”Father of the Blues”, the BMAs are widely recognized as the most prestigious awards in the genre. Perhaps more importantly, of all the myriad music awards these days, the Handys have a level of credibility that the other self-congratulatory, bullshit awards that pander to the best selling and most popular do not. A lot of the credit for that has to go to the Blues Foundation members, blues musicians and past winners who make up the award’s electorate.
That is why I am so pleased to report that last night Otis Clay won two awards, Soul Blues Vocalist of the Year and Soul Blues Album of the Year for “This Time For Real” which he shared with his collaborator on the project, Billy Price. Unfortunately Mr. Clay, a Blues Music Hall of Famer, was not there to receive the awards having passed away suddenly from a heart attack this past January.
In accepting the award on their behalf, Price, one of the classiest people in the music industry, stated “My happiness at receiving this honor is tempered by my sadness at having to accept it alone. We honor and cherish the memory of Otis Clay every day.” Amen.
To all the cynical, conspiracy minded contrarians and internet trolls out there who may be thinking that Clay’s awards were merely as a result of a posthumous act of sympathy, may I remind you that the album “This Time For Real” was released in May of 2015 over seven months prior to Clay’s death in January 2016. During that time, the album received rave reviews including one gushing, over the top review by yours truly. But as you can see I was not alone in my praise.
If you have not heard “This Time For Real” it truly is wonderful and I highly recommend owning it in its tangible form because the cd, booklet and art work were a labor of love. It can be purchased at www.billyprice.com and www.otisclay.net.
Lastly, for anyone who will be in the Chicago area the weekend of June 11, 2016, the Crossroads stage at the Chicago Blues Fest is featuring a Soul and R n B day on Saturday June 11th headlined by Otis Clay’s crack band tentatively scheduled for 4:15 pm to 5:30 pm. This year’s line-up is one of the strongest in years (e.g. Shemekia Copeland, Curtis Salgado, Ronnie Earl, and BMA Entertainer of the Year Tommy Castro) and not to be missed.