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Re: “At 40 years old, Alligator Records continues to evolve

LET THE NUMBERS ROLL
      
Here is another small set of data from the ongoing research on the status of African American performers in the industry. 
This report focuses on the widely acknowledged Blues Music Awards (formerly the Handy Awards), presented annually in May by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, TN.
The statistics presented here are based on a sample of six categories presented by the BMAs and they show the overall percentage of African American winners over the past ten years, from 2002 to 2011.

Blues Entertainer of the Year - 6/10 
6 african american winners over the past 10 years, with B.B.King the undisputed winner from 2002 to 2005 (the percentage of African American winners is 60%). 
Since the renaming of the category to the B.B.King Award in 2006, 2 African Americans have received the award over the past 6 years. 
- percentage of African american Ainners: 33%

Blues Band of the Year  - 4/10  
4 African American bands have won in the past 10 years.
- percentage of African American winners:  40%

Best Contemporary Blues Male artist of the Year - 5/10,  
5 awards have been won by an African American, all 5 to Buddy Guy    
- percentage of African American winners: 50%  

Best Contemporary Blues Female artist of the Year - 5/10  
5 African American winners over the past 10 years.
- percentage of African American winners:  50%  

Blues Instrumentalist of the Year - Guitar - 3/10 
3 African American guitar players have won the Blues Award in 10 years
- percentage of African American winners  30% 

Blues Instrumentalist of the Year - Harmonica - 0/10  
No African American winners over the past 10 years. 
- percentage of African American winners 0%

COMMENTS:
* In the Blues Contemporary Male category: Buddy Guy is the only African American winner in the 10 years sampled, receiving the award five out of ten times.

* In the Blues Instrumentalist of the Year - Guitar: Buddy Guy and Hubert Sumlin are the only two African Americans who have won this award over the past ten years.

* In the Best Instrumentalist of the Year - Harmonica category: no African American has won the Blues Award over the past ten years.  We expanded our analysis to look back to 1993, the year  in which the separate categories for different instruments were created. The result does not change:  No African American harmonica player has ever won a Blues Award, although Carey Bell, James Cotton, Billy Boy Arnold, Sugar Blue and Billy Branch, all critically acclaimed harp players, have each been nominated over the past 19 years.

* Junior Wells, one of the most critically esteemed and undisputed masters of the blues harp, has never received a nomination in this category, although he did win awards for his recordings.

* What conclusions can be drawn from these numbers?

The research presented here is part of an ongoing project by The Blues Coalition.
More to come...

The Blues Coalition
www.bluescoalition.org

Posted by Blues Coalition on 09/19/2011 at 1:40 PM

Re: “At 40 years old, Alligator Records continues to evolve

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Some Preliminary Data on Blues Festival Bookings

Here's some preliminary data analyzing the line-ups of a sample of the major blues festivals/events this year.
These data focus on bands that are predominantly African American and are headed by African American bandleaders. (They do not include bands that are led by non-African Americans but use African Americans as side artists or special/featured guests. This will be another category in future research.)

Edmonton Labatt Blues Festival
A total of 13 bands, only 2 of which were lead by African Americans and predominantly African American in composition; 0 African Americans as headliner, but 1 as a featured guest Percentage of total acts booked: 15%

Bluestock
9 African American bands in a total of 22 bands; 2 African American headliners.
Percentage of total acts booked: 41%

Tampa Bay Blues Festival
A total of 15 bands, only 6 of which were led by African Americans and predominantly African American in composition.
Percentage of total acts booked: 40%

Telluride Blues & Brews
A total of 18 bands, only 1 African American headliner and a total of 5 bands led by African Americans and predominantly African American in composition
Percentage of total acts booked: 33%

Riverfront Blues Festival (Wilmington, DE)
A total of 15 bands, only 6 of which were led by African Americans
Percentage of total acts booked: 40%

Bedford Blues & BBQ
A total of 10 bands on the main stage, only 3 of which were led by African Americans
Percentage of total acts booked: 33%

Waterfront Blues Fest
24 african american bands in 85+ performances.

Blues Cruise pacific 2011
27 bands, 11 of which led by African Americans and predominantly African American in composition
Percentage of total acts booked: 40%

A few exceptions to the pattern include:

North Atlantic Blues Festival
13 bands, 10 of which led by African Americans.
Percentage of total acts booked: 76%

Pennsylvania Blues Festival - Blue Mountain Ski area
10 bands, 9 of which led by African Americans.
Percentage of total acts booked: 90%

These data are descriptive and not explanatory, and a part of a larger research project.
Some questions to consider:
- Do these data provide evidence that African American artists are now at a distinct disadvantage in the Blues business?

- Is there a lack of awareness or responsibility on behalf of the promoters to the importance of preserving and promoting the authenticity of Blues, as a cultural creation and contribution of the African American community?

To be continued....
The Blues Coalition
www.bluescoalition.org

Posted by Blues Coalition on 09/04/2011 at 10:16 AM

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