The Blues Foundation is proud to launch its 44th year with a tribute to the 2024 Keeping The Blues Alive (KBA) honorees during the International Blues Challenge week, from Tuesday, January 16 through Saturday, January 20.
This year’s KBA recipients include John Hall, Jacques Garcia, Larry Chambers, Laura Carbone, Lee Oskar, Mark Stenzler, The Columbus Blues Alliance, and Blues Association Turkey.
Chosen annually by a distinguished panel of blues professionals, the KBA Awards honor individuals and organizations that have played vital roles in promoting the art and business of the blues. The 2024 honorees will be celebrated for their contributions at the Keeping The Blues Alive Awards brunch on Friday, January 19, 2024, at 10:30 AM, located at the Hyatt Centric in Memphis.
The awards ceremony is a highlight of the Blues Foundation’s 39th Annual International Blues Challenge, which begins on Monday, January 16, 2024. The week’s events start with the International Showcase on historic Beale Street and culminate with the Finals at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis on Saturday, January 20, at 12 PM. More than a thousand musicians from around the world will converge in Memphis to vie for the prestigious International Blues Challenge title. Along with prizes and bookings, this event is the world’s most esteemed blues music competition. Attendees can also enjoy showcases, jams, panels, workshops, and master classes throughout Beale Street, with the music lasting into the early hours of the morning after each day’s IBC challenger performances.
The 2024 Keeping The Blues Alive Awards proudly recognizes the following recipients for their significant contributions to the blues genre:
Since his high school days in 1971, John Hall’s passion for blues music has only grown. His extensive involvement within the blues community includes operating Rhythm Room Records, producing leading blues festivals in Massachusetts, and founding events like The Green Harbor Roots Festival and the North River Blues Festival. He has also contributed to hurricane relief efforts for New Orleans musicians and served in various capacities with WATD 95.9 and the Boston Blues Society. Hall’s participation in benefit concerts and judging local blues competitions underscores his lifelong dedication to the blues, making him a deserving recipient of this year’s award.
Jacques Garcia’s transformative experience with Muddy Waters sparked a lifelong dedication to the blues. With his wife Anne-Marie, he has been instrumental in nurturing the blues scene in France, notably through the Salaise Blues Festival and Rhésus Blues Productions. Garcia’s founding of the Black Jack Blues Association, managing a blues club and festival in Ampuis, and organizing significant events like the Robert Johnson 100th Anniversary Celebration are testaments to his impact. His efforts with La Maison du Blues, including the European Blues Museum, and the Blues Preservation Association, have made an indelible mark on blues promotion and preservation in France.
Larry Chambers has made his mark as a songwriter for Fame Records, contributing to the repertoire of artists like Wilson Pickett and Candi Staton. His work at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and Malaco Records, coupled with engineering and promoting roles, has significantly shaped the soul/blues genre. At Ecko Records, he has continued to influence the industry, with his songwriting prowess evident in hits like “I’ll Drink Your Bathwater, Baby.” Chambers’ enduring role in promoting talented blues artists makes him a worthy honoree.
Laura Carbone, a New York-based photographer, has captured the essence of the blues for global publications. Her promotion efforts have brought artists to new regions and supported educational initiatives like Blues in the Schools. Carbone’s philanthropy includes donating her photos to fundraisers and supporting aspiring young musicians. Her dedication to the blues, often without seeking recognition, showcases her commitment and warrants her recognition with a KBA Award.
Lee Oskar, a harmonica virtuoso and founder of Lee Oskar Harmonicas, has been a major supporter of The Blues Foundation. His innovative contributions to the harmonica industry and his role in the successful group WAR have earned him global acclaim. Oskar’s support of blues initiatives and events reflects his dedication to the music community, making him an esteemed award recipient.
Mark Stenzler’s career in radio broadcasting has been marked by his love for the blues. His show, Blues Zeppelin, has become a staple for blues enthusiasts and has been instrumental in promoting blues musicians and festivals. Stenzler’s role in the growth of the blues genre and his support for artists’ careers make him an exemplary recipient of the KBA Award.
Columbus Blues Alliance
The Columbus Blues Alliance, celebrating its 34th anniversary, has been vital in promoting the blues in Ohio. Their work with local blues societies, music venues, educational initiatives, and support for artists, especially during the pandemic, has fortified the state’s blues scene. Their recognition with a KBA Award celebrates their dedication to the blues community.