On March 16, the Blues Foundation released the names of the newest members to the Blues Hall of Fame. Along with the seven new members, a number of Blues recordings are also being inducted into The Hall.
On May 10, The Blues Foundation will induct the 43rd class of musicians to the Hall of Fame. Joining the immortalized Bluesmen…and women…are Junior Kimbrough, Carey Bell, Esther Phillips, John Primer, Snooky Pryor, Fenton Robinson, and Josh White; along with music from Little Walter, Lowell Fulson, Freddy King, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Son House and Howlin’ Wolf.
The Blues Foundation notes that the inductees, “have made the Blues timeless through performance, documentation, and recording.”
The inductees are selected based on, “their historical contribution, impact, and overall influence on the Blues.”
In its 42 year history, the Blues Foundation has inducted over 400 members in five categories – Performers, Individuals, Classic of Blues Literature, Classic of Blues Recording (Song), and Classic of Blues Recording (Album).
Meet the Blues Hall of Fame 2023 inductees:
Carey Bell made his mark as a Chicago Blues harp master in the ‘70’s. When he wasn’t recording his own music, he could often be found in the studio as a session harmonica player. He has worked with numerous artists including; Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Louisiana Red, Jimmy Rogers, and Eddy Clearwater. He is a W.C. Handy Award winner and Artist of the Year for 1998.
More than a musician, Junior Kimbrough owned his own Juke Joint – Junior’s Place. His music has been used for the documentary “Deep Blues” and has been covered by several artists including The Black Keys, Iggy Pop & the Stooges, Daft Punk, and the North Mississippi Allstars.
Blues Queen Esther Phillips started singing with Johnny Otis when she was just 13 years old. Performing more than just the Blues; she sang R&B, soul, jazz, pop, and country.
Like many musicians John Primer got his musical start in the church. He learned to play the guitar on a homemade one string. Later he played with some of the biggest names in Blues including Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Magic Slim, Cotton, Jimmy Rogers, John Brim, and Eddie Shaw. He was often the first call when an artist needed a guitar man for a session. He is a multiple Blues Music Awards winner.
Considered a Chicago Blues pioneer, Snooky Pryor was born in rural Mississippi but made his way north after World War II. A harmonica player, he was the first ever to use electricity to amplify the sound. He recorded for a number of different record labels; producing some historic works.
More than one of the newest members to the Blues Hall of Fame, Josh White is a Folk Alliance International Lifetime Achievement Award winner. His protest songs landed him on the blacklist during the McCarthy era. Prior to 1949, albums were recorded in 78rpm’s. White’s “Ballads and Blues” album was the first album to be recorded at 33 1/3rpm.
Fenton Robinson’s form of Blues was loved by all who heard it but was far from a household name. The performer, songwriter, and teacher also worked backing other artists including Junior Wells, Sonny By Williamson, and Otis Rush.
Scholar David Evans laid the groundwork for numerous publications, lectures, and even liner notes that has resulted in Grammy Awards, books, and documentaries.
“Little Walter: The Complete Chess Masters”
“Black Nights” by Lowell Fulson
“I’m Tore Down” by Freddy King
“Mojo Hand” by Lightin’ Hopkins
“My Black Mama” from Son House
“Little Red Rooster” by Howlin’ Wolf
“The Original Blues: The Emergence of the Blues in African American Vaudeville 1899-1926” by Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff
Feature photo credit: Bluesrevise4.jpg