The 55th annual Grammy® Awards ceremony was held last night in Los Angeles, California and broadcast in the U.S. by CBS. It was quite a battle but, in the end, blues veteran Dr. John came up the winner, taking the Grammy® Award for "Best Blues Album" for his Locked Down. OK, so I'm not fooling anybody, and neither is the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which cut the number of blues award categories in half a couple years ago in spite of the growing popularity of the genre. The other nominees in the category - Shemekia Copeland, Ruthie Foster, Heritage Blues Orchestra, and Joan Osborne - were equally worthy of the honor, and if there'd been a second blues category like there used to be, another one of these talented artists would be taking home some hardware.
The Black Keys, who certainly stir a lot of blues and soul into their raucous rock sound, walked off with a number of awards, including a Grammy® for "Best Rock Album" for their El Camino, and "Best Rock Song," for their ubiquitous "Lonely Boy." Keys frontman Dan Auerbach took "Producer of the Year" for his work on both El Camino and Dr. John's Locked Down, and Bonnie Raitt was honored with the "Best Americana Album" for her Slipstream. Also on the plus side, the Academy has righted a longtime wrong by finally awarding Texas blues legend Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins with a "Lifetime Achievement Award" for his contributions to American music. This year's other "Lifetime Achievement Award" recipients are Glenn Gould, Charlie Haden, Carole King, the Temptations, and the recently-deceased Patti Page and Ravi Shankar.
Hopkins, who died in 1983, was memorialized in a statement released by the Academy under the byline of musicians Gary Clark, Jr. and Doyle Bramhall, Jr. The two accomplished Texas bluesman said "To understand the importance of Sam Lightnin' Hopkins requires a look at Texas blues itself. Texas, often referred to as a "country within a country," stays true to its reputation as a century-long hotbed for the blues alongside Mississippi and Chicago. Its style: wide-open, flashy, dangerous, rule-bending, and always swinging. Its lineage staggeringly rich: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, Lead Belly, Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin' Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Lil' Son Jackson, Freddie King, Larry Davis, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Pee Wee Crayton, Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many others."
Photos courtesy Nonesuch Records