Bettye LaVette, Syl Johnson, Billy Branch Lead Blues Hall Of Fame Inductees 2020
The Blues Foundation announced 41st class of the Blues Hall of Fame, with the list of inductees spanning blues originators such as Victoria Spivey and Bertha “Chippie” Hill to contemporary artists, including Bettye LaVette, Syl Johnson, and Billy Branch.
The class of 2020 are drawn from five categories, Performers, Non-Performing Individuals, Classics of Blues Literature, Classics of Blues Recording (Song), and Classics of Blues Recording (Album)
The inductees for 2020 are:
Piano-man Eddie Boyd, who scored several hits in the 1950s but who left the U.S. in the mid-1960s over segregation to pursue a successful career in Europe.
Harmonica legend Billy Branch, who, as part of the second wave of Chicago blues artists, has earned multiple Blues Music Awards and taught hundreds of aspiring blues musicians around the world.
Singer Bettye LaVette, who achieved widespread acclaim, — including several Blues Music Awards — and performing at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration celebration, after decades of toiling in the industry.
Blues artist Victoria Spivey, who recorded hits such as “Black Snake Blues,” and helped to introduce a young Bob Dylan to the music world.
Guitarist Syl Johnson (brother of Blues Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson) who played a key role in the Chicago soul scene of the 1960s and scored hits such as “Different Strokes” and “Is It Because I’m Black.”
George “Harmonica” Smith, a well-regarded session musician who recorded with artists such as Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, and Big Joe Turner but who achieved little fame with the general public.
Producer Ralph Peer, who helped to popularize country music but also played an outsized role in bringing blues music to a wider audience via OKeh Records, and, later, Victor Records.
The Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, held in conjunction with Blues Music Awards Week, will occur on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, at the Halloran Centre at the Orpheum (225 S. Main St., Memphis). A cocktail reception honoring the BHOF inductees and Blue Music Awards nominees will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the formal inductions commencing at 6:30 p.m. in the Halloran Theater. Tickets, which include the ceremony and reception admission, are $75 each and will be available starting on Tuesday, January 7, as will Blues Music Awards tickets.
photo: Bettye LaVette (Mark Seliger)