The 2020 Living Blues Awards

The current issue of the very excellent Living Blues magazine features the results of its 27th annual Living Blues Awards polling for the best in blues music. They run two polls — one for critics and one for readers.

And I should also note that the magazine is celebrating its 50th year of celebrating the blues this year, having been established in 1970. Give them a look, if you never have.

Here are the poll results. It’s always fun to see if you agree.

Critics’ Poll

Blues Artist of the Year (Male)
Bobby Rush

Blues Artist of the Year (Female)
Shemekia Copeland

Most Outstanding Blues Singer
Mavis Staples

Most Outstanding Musician (Guitar)
Jimmy Johnson

Most Outstanding Musician (Harmonica)
Billy Branch

Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboard)
Marcia Ball

Most Outstanding Musician (Bass)
Benny Turner

Most Outstanding Musician (Drums)
Cedric Burnside

Most Outstanding Musician (Horns)
The Texas Horns: Kaz Kazanoff, John Mills, and Al Gomez

Most Outstanding Musician (Other)
Rhiannon Giddens – Banjo

Best Live Performer
Bobby Rush

Comeback Artist of the Year
Mary Lane

Artist Deserving More Attention
Crystal Thomas


Best Blues Albums of 2019

Album of the Year
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Kingfish
(Alligator)

New Recordings / Contemporary Blues
Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues
Roots and Branches: The Songs of Little Walter
(Alligator)

New Recordings / Southern Soul
Annika Chambers
Kiss My Sass
(VizzTone)

New Recordings / Best Debut
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Kingfish
(Alligator)

New Recordings / Traditional & Acoustic
Jontavious Willis
Spectacular Class
(Kind of Blue Music)

Historical / Pre-war
Various Artists
“It’s the Best Stuff Yet!”
(Frog Records)

Historical / Postwar
Various Artists
Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records—The Definitive Collection
(Earwig Records)

Blues Book of the Year
Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
By Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow
Chicago Review Press

Producer of the Year: New Recording
Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell
Songs of Our Native Daughters
(Smithsonian Folkways)

Producer of the Year: Historical Recording
Michael Frank
Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records—The Definitive Collection
(Earwig Records)


Readers’ Poll

Blues Artist of the Year (Male)
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Blues Artist of the Year (Female)
Mavis Staples

Most Outstanding Musician (Guitar)
Keb’ Mo’

Most Outstanding Musician (Harmonica)
Charlie Musselwhite

Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboard)
Marcia Ball

Best Live Performer
Buddy Guy

Most Outstanding Blues Singer
Buddy Guy

Best Blues Album of 2019 (New Release)
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Kingfish
(Alligator)

Best Blues Album of 2019 (Historical Recording)
Muddy Waters
The Complete Plantation Recordings: The Historic 1941–42 Library of Congress Field Recordings
(Analogue Productions)

Best Blues Book of 2019
Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
By Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow
Chicago Review Press

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