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How The Return Of The Blues Hall Of Fame & Blues Music Awards In 2022 Captured The Spirit Of The Memphis Blues Community

Photo: Greg Campbell/Getty Images

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How The Return Of The Blues Hall Of Fame & Blues Music Awards In 2022 Captured The Spirit Of The Memphis Blues Community

After a COVID-induced hiatus, the Memphis blues community celebrated its talent and resilience at the 2022 Blues Hall Of Fame induction ceremony and Blues Music Awards.

GRAMMYs/May 13, 2022 - 11:10 pm

Memphis is the cradle of blues music, a city whose history runs as deep as the Mississippi River hugging the city's limits. To celebrate that history, the Memphis-based Blues Foundation hosted six days of events, beginning with the Blues Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the 43rd Blues Music Awards. The award ceremonies preceded the four-night International Blues Challenge talent contest at various clubs on the historic Beale Street.

The celebrations were a sort of comeback for Memphis' blues scene. Though tough for the music industry as a whole, two years of COVID-induced shutdowns seemed particularly hard on the tight-knit blues community, where artists, industry workers and fans often intermingle like long-missed family and friends.  

"I always say the industry has not been that kind to me, but so many of the people have," 2020 Hall of Fame inductee Bettye LaVette, a classic R&B singer known for her emotional-yet-controlled vocals, told GRAMMY.com.

Held May 4 at the historic Orpheum Theater's Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education, the Blues Hall of Fame induction ceremony was a particularly large and emotive occasion. Because of COVID shutdowns, no Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held in 2020 and no new inductees were announced in 2021. The 2020 and 2022 classes were combined for this year's event.

Blues Music Awards 2022

"My career has been one of the most ridiculous things you ever heard of," Lavette continued. "They have literally carried me to this fifth career that I'm experiencing now. I call it my fifth career because every one of the other four started with a big bang and then it all turned to s<em></em>* and I had to start all over again."

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The Blues Foundation started the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and has since inducted more than more than 400 artists, industry professionals, recordings, and works of literature. In 2015, the Hall of Fame established a brick-and-mortar presence in the foundation's downtown Memphis headquarters, which recently reopened following a renovation.

In addition to LaVette, 2020 performer inductees included Chicago harmonica player Billy Branch; singer Eddie Boyd; George "Harmonica" Smith; guitarist/singer/songwriter Syl Johnson, who passed away just three month earlier; and blues pioneer Victoria Spivey, whose induction was accepted by GRAMMY nominee Maria Muldaur.

Non-performer inductees in the 2020 class included pioneering roots producer Ralph Peer. French music scholar Sebastian Danchin's 2001 book Earl Hooker, Blues Master was entered as a Classic Of Blues Literature and Howlin' Wolf: The Chess Box as a classic album. Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's original recording of "That's All Right (Mama)"; Bertha "Chippie" Hill's 1926 hit "Trouble in Mind"; "Future Blues" by Delta bluesman Willie Brown; B.B. King's first big hit, "3 O'Clock Blues"; and Ruth Brown's "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" were included in the Hall as classic singles.

Blues Hall of Famer Taj Mahal receives a star on the Orpheum Theatre-Memphis Sidewalk of Stars in Memphis, Tennessee

Blues Hall of Famer Taj Mahal receives a star on the Orpheum Theatre-Memphis Sidewalk of Stars in Memphis, Tennessee | Photo: Greg Campbell/Getty Images

The 2022 class of inductees included performers Lucille Bogan and Little Willie John, whose induction was accepted by his son Keith John — a longtime backup singer for Stevie Wonder who evoked his father's soaring voice while thrilling the audience with off-the-cuff renditions of some of his father's hits like "Fever." Soul man Johnnie Taylor, another 2022 inductee, was honored in a separate, earlier ceremony to accommodate his family.

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2022 non-performers included songwriter Otis Blackwell and blues historian and DJ Mary Katherine Aldin. Bo Diddley's 1958 self-titled Chess/Checker debut was inducted as an album along with the singles "Good Rocking Tonight" by Roy Brown; "Rollin' and Tumblin'" by the Baby Face Leroy Trio; "Eyesight to the Blind" by Sonny Boy Williamson II; Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Farther Up the Road"; and B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby." English folklorist Bruce Bastin's 1986 work Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast was entered in the literature category.

The following night, veteran California bluesman Tommy Castro was the big winner at the 43rd Annual Blues Music Awards. Castro took home three of the night's biggest honors: B.B. Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year for his Alligator Records release Tommy Castro Presents A Bluesman Came To Town, and, with his backing group, the Painkillers, Band of the Year.

"The one I really wanted to see us get was the Band of the Year [award] because these guys work really hard," Castro told GRAMMY.com backstage after the show. "Nobody's in this for the money. It's a steady gig, but nobody's making lots of money doing this. They're really doing it out of love; you have to really be behind the music."

Florida singer/guitarist Selwyn Birchwood — who first burst on the scene in 2013 when he won the International Blues Challenge, an unsigned band contest presented by the Blues Foundation — captured the night's other big award: Best Song for "I'd Climb Mountains," off of his 2021 release, Living in a Burning House.

Blues Music Awards 2022

Other big winners on the night included flame-haired Canadian guitarist Sue Foley, who took home awards for Traditional Blues Album and the Koko Taylor Award for Best Traditional Artist-Female. Clarksdale, Mississippi, blues guitarist and singer Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, fresh off a GRAMMY win for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 2022 GRAMMYs, also received awards for Best Contemporary Blues Album for his record 662 and Best Contemporary Blues Artist-Male. Two-time GRAMMY winner Taj Mahal won Best Traditional Artist-Male.

In addition to Castro, the long night's lineup of performances included Birchwood, a second-line-inspired set from Louisiana favorite Kenny Neal, and a Bobby "Blue" Bland tribute by the late blues great's son, Rodd Bland and his Members Only Band, who took home the Best Emerging Artist Album award for Live on Beale Street.

All photos by Greg Campbell/Getty Images

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Quarantine Diaries: Blues Legend Bettye LaVette Is Staying "Mellow" With Wine & Watching Lots Of TV

Bettye LaVette

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Quarantine Diaries: Blues Legend Bettye LaVette Is Staying "Mellow" With Wine & Watching Lots Of TV

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors

GRAMMYs/May 7, 2020 - 09:35 pm

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, GRAMMY-nominated blues Hall Of Fame inductee Bettye LaVette shares her Quarantine Diary. LaVette's new album, Blackbirds, arrives on Aug. 28. The album's lead single, "I Hold No Grudge," is available now.

Well wishes to everyone, from West Orange. This is Bettye LaVette reporting.

I've been asked to talk about my daily activities during this terrible coronavirus assault. Most people know that I'm not very active on social media, though I have been lately. But I like to talk to people in person, and I HATE to type. Anyway, here goes...

I came home from my last gig on Feb. 3, and I haven't been out of the house except for some things out in the yard since.

My husband Kevin goes to the store once a week. He doesn't want me exposed. As I have been deemed part of the "elderly." LOL.

Although stuck at home, my days are pretty much the same as they were before the stay-at-home rule went into effect. Except it's EVERY DAY, instead of being mixed with working days. And I have to say, I am SICK of the repetition. If it would only get warm and dry, I'd be happy to work in the yard every day.

[5:30 a.m.–7:30 a.m.] Anyway, my day starts around 5:30 a.m. when Otis and Smokey, our kitties, jump on the bed and wake me up to feed them. They whine, almost speak, bite on my arms and hands gently, sit on my head...and Kevin SLEEPS right through all this!

I get up and go downstairs to the kitchen and feed them. Then I smoke my morning joint and check in on "Morning Joe" until around 7:30, when I go BACK to bed—until around 10:30.

[10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.] I turn on the TV and all day long it's between MSNBC, CNN, FOX and "Bar Rescue," while practicing the first part of the day's housewifery. And/or planning or prepping the dinner for that day. When I get home from the road, I am pretty much sick of restaurant food, so I cook almost everything.

[12 p.m.–2 p.m.] At noon, I work out for about an hour. I vocalize as often as I can, trying to help keep my voice in shape. But that is no substitute for doing my show. At 74, I worry that I won't come back as strong after this long a break. There is just so much sh*t to think about.

I then go down and say hey to Kevin, who is always working at the computer. I let the kitties in, feed them again, and let them out again. Check in on the TV (old movies from the '30s and '40s, political shows) while practicing more housewifery.

I am not a music enthusiast, so I don't listen to music for entertainment often. And I find reading boring, unless it's for information. I really, REALLY like television.

Occasionally, Kevin will holler out from his office, "Baby, come listen to this," and I go in and listen. It's usually something that he thinks I would sound good singing. Or something completely ridiculous. If it's good and it fits me, then it goes in my "To do" folder. That's about as much work as I do on music when I am not recording.

[2 p.m.–6 p.m.] I make lunch at around 2, do some other domestic chores, all the while watching TV and letting the kitties in and out. Sometimes the afternoons get broken up by phone interviews. And then I let the kitties in or out.

The one upside about this is that I smoke joints and drink champagne and wine so I can stay "mellow," as they used to say. And I can't quite do it like that while I'm working.

Then I round up the kitties for the last time and start making dinner, sometime between 6 and 8.

[6 p.m.–12 a.m.] Kevin and I meet after dinner to watch TV together. I also play solitaire through all this time to fill in the gaps. Until 11. Then Trevor Noah, Colbert's monologue, over to "Perry Mason," then Seth's monologue, then to bed and Alfred Hitchcock puts us to sleep.

Since I do not write my own material, that means that almost all of my income comes from live performances... Ughh. Thankfully, my husband is a hawk with money, so he is keeping us safe for the moment.

That is pretty much a day in the life of Betty Kiley, which is who I am when I'm not BEING Bettye LaVette. As scary as the current situation is, I think if we can all just hold on, we can beat this. In fact, I'm sure of it.

I'm so grateful to have my wonderful husband and my kitties here with me. I love you all, and I'll see you on the other side of this mess.

Soulfully, 

Bettye LaVette

If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, learn more about the Recording Academy's and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit the MusiCares website.

Tibet House US Benefit Concert 2020: Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Phoebe Bridgers & More Confirmed

Patti Smith and Iggy Pop perform at the Tibet House US Benefit Concert in 2017

Photo: Jason Kempin/GETTY IMAGES

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Tibet House US Benefit Concert 2020: Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Phoebe Bridgers & More Confirmed

Composer Philip Glass is confirmed as the artistic director for the one-night benefit show, taking place February 2020 in New York City

GRAMMYs/Dec 6, 2019 - 12:26 am

Tibet House US, the nonprofit educational institution and cultural embassy founded by the Dalai Lama, has announced the lineup for its annual, long-running benefit concert, which returns to Carnegie Hall in New York City Feb. 26, 2020, for its 33rd annual event. The lineup for next year's show includes punk pioneers and GRAMMY nominees Iggy Pop and Patti Smith, soul singer and five-time GRAMMY nominee Bettye LaVette, 2018 Best New Artist nominee Margo Price and many others. Legendary composer Philip Glass, a four-time GRAMMY nominee, curated the lineup and serves as the event's artistic director.

Also joining the show are Matt Berninger, frontman for indie/alternative rock band The National, singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson, musician/activist Jesse Paris Smith and Tenzin Choegyal, a Tibetan artist and cultural ambassador. More artists will be announced soon.

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One of the longest-running charity events of its kind, the Tibet House US Benefit Concert is widely known for its unique musical collaborations and solo performances. Past artists and performers include David Bowie, Carly Simon, Alabama Shakes, Paul Simon, Sharon Jones, FKA twigs and many others.

Proceeds from the concert benefit Tibet House US, which works to "ensure the survival of Tibetan civilization and culture," according to the organization's website.

Tickets for the 2020 Tibet House US Benefit Concert are on sale now via the Carnegie Hall website. Learn more about Tibet House US via the organization's website.

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Behind The Board: Nashville Producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin Explains Why She Leads With "Curiosity" And Take Risks In The Studio

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Behind The Board: Nashville Producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin Explains Why She Leads With "Curiosity" And Take Risks In The Studio

Hamlin reflects on the complex relationship between artist and producer, and shares an experience that taught her to leave extra room for creativity in her recording sessions.

GRAMMYs/Oct 5, 2022 - 05:03 pm

Nashville fixture Jordan Brooke Hamlin has produced records for artists including Danni Nicholls, Missy Higgins, Rachel Yamagata, and GRAMMY-winning duo Indigo Girls — and she's been a multi-instrumentalist and a touring and studio musician for more than a decade and a half.

Indeed, music is in Hamlin's blood, as she explains in this episode of Behind the Board.

"My parents loved music so much, and that I think is such a gift," she says, speaking from the residential, women-owned Nashville studio Møxe. "I honestly don't remember a time that it wasn't a given that I would do music. Or musician and botanist. Those were the two options in my mind."

Inspired by her parents' musical tastes, Hamlin grew up loving the immersive albums of the late 1960s and early '70s — and today, she applies that holistic approach to her studio work.

"I really love working with artists over the course of their career and exploring different spaces and different depths they can go to every time," she explains. "I probably come into the room starting with curiosity. I'm wanting to get their GPS coordinates. I want to know where they are, what they love right now, what they loved growing up, what their sauce is."

She's also always learning, thanks largely to the creative minds she surrounds herself with when she steps into a recording session. For example, she points to one session with a group of artists, when the team started improvising an arrangement in real time.

"We're coming up with this incredible arrangement on the fly," Hamlin recounts, "and we were talking about how that's a risk, to not go in with an arrangement, and only in a certain space would it be like, 'Yeah, let's take an hour' — which was probably what it would have taken anyway to record it — and everybody had so much fun."

"I thought it was a good reminder to me to leave space not just for engineering, but we're here to capture people playing their instruments to a high degree, and their creativity manifest," she concludes.

Press play on the video above for more reflections and insights from Hamlin, and keep checking GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Behind the Board.

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10 Essential James Bond Theme Songs: From Shirley Bassey To Sam Smith & Adele
Nancy Sinatra and composer/conductor John Barry prepare to record the theme music for 'You Only Live Twice' in 1967.

PHOTO: Bettmann / Contributor

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10 Essential James Bond Theme Songs: From Shirley Bassey To Sam Smith & Adele

Agent 007 turns 60 on Oct. 5, and his taste in music remains impeccable. GRAMMY.com revisits 10 James Bond theme songs by Shirley Bassey, Nancy Sinatra, Adele and others that have soundtracked the adventures of the world's most infamous spy.

GRAMMYs/Oct 5, 2022 - 01:42 pm

Sixty years ago, on October 5, 1962, Agent 007 pointed his Walther PPK at the audience onscreen and fired his first shot. The screen bled red, the surf guitar riff of Monty Norman’s "James Bond Theme" filled the air, and a legend was born. A modestly budgeted noir shot in Jamaica, Dr. No was the first of the many spy adventures inspired by Ian Fleming’s pulpy novels.

No other cinematic franchise has been so thoroughly and completely informed by music like the 007 films. The blueprint developed and chaperoned by John Barry — who wrote the music for the first seven outings, then returned intermittently for an additional five — infused the saga with its existential cosmovision:  slightly jaded, ever cosmopolitan, at times beautiful and profound.

Barry’s music made the action scenes soar, and, most importantly, added a tinge of bittersweet complexity to the improbable seduction scenes. It was the music, not the acting or special effects, that made the character of Bond human. By 1965, the theme songs had become a stylized ritual of their own that stretched out the canvas on which the colors and set pieces merged together.

There are 25 official titles in the Bond saga, and dozens of songs — some incidental, others rejected, many of them global hits. These 10 are absolutely essential.

Sam Smith - "Writing’s On The Wall" (2015)

Bond title songs have generated grand moments, but also a few spectacular misfires (remember Lulu and "The Man With The Golden Gun"?). When Sam Smith’s melancholy, strangely monotone track was first unveiled, critics were quick to pan it. But the song has staying power, and its mournful melody works particularly well within the context of Spectre.

In retrospect, it’s one of the series’ deepest anthems. Fun fact: Radiohead submitted a Spectre song, but it was rejected for being — surprise, surprise — a tad depressing.

Shirley Bassey - "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (1965)

Following the epic success of Goldfinger, Welsh diva Shirley Bassey was asked to return for this jazzy Barry composition meant for Thunderball, the fourth 007 adventure. The lyrics are preposterous ("Damoiselles and danger/Have filled the stranger’s past"), but Barry saves the day with a muted trumpet, stately acoustic bass and a melody filled with longing.

When the finished recording turned out to be too short and Bassey was unavailable, Dionne Warwick was enlisted as a replacement. Her version is just as good, but was also canned in favor of Tom Jones’ "Thunderball" after the producers insisted on a title track featuring the actual name of the movie, even if the word itself had no real meaning.

Louis Armstrong - "We Have All The Time In The World" (1969) 

The first official Bond movie without Sean Connery is a bit of an incongruous mess, but it found Barry in a creative high. Combining lush orchestrations with electronic instruments, he wrote an electrifying instrumental for the title sequence, then worked with a dying Louis Armstrong on this moving ballad to accompany the story’s tragic shock ending.

Shirley Bassey - "Moonraker" (1979)

Bassey’s final 007 track — she certainly should have been asked for a few more — found her teaming up with Barry for a luxurious ballad that revels in swirling strings, a Morse code-like triangle pattern and a subliminal nod to late ‘70s disco opulence.

With Bond flying into outer space to fight the megalomaniacal villain, Moonraker was one of the silliest films in the series. Bassey’s regal touch added gravitas and a welcome hint of sadness.

Adele - "Skyfall" (2012) 

During the ‘90s, Bond songs strayed away from the majestic sensibility branded in their DNA. It took Adele and a 77-piece orchestra to bring it all back.

"Skyfall" is a self-assured piece of songwriting that mirrored the film's narrative renewal. Written by the singer with producer Paul Epworth, "Skyfall" begins with mysterious piano chords, then matches the immensity of the Shirley Bassey school of thought with Adele’s soulful reading.

Duran Duran - "A View To A Kill" (1985)

Keeping Barry as the official 007 composer well into the ‘80s was a wise decision, but updating his sound was also necessary. Reportedly, the pairing of Academy Award winning Barry with such chart toppers as Duran Duran and A-ha created friction — but you could never tell by listening to this wicked new wave romp that glitters with the band’s glamor while maintaining that solemn Bondian touch. Playing it live was an altogether different story, as Simon Le Bon’s infamous bum note became one of Live Aid’s most talked about moments.

Jack White and Alicia Keys - "Another Way To Die" (2008) 

On paper, inviting the White Stripes front man and the exquisitely gifted Keys for a joint 007 composition was an intriguing concept. The resulting track not only exceeded every possible expectation, but it also brought Bond closer to the redemptive noise of blues-fueled rock’n’roll.

White performed the ferocious drum beat himself, while kick-in-the-pants brass, grungy guitar licks and Keys’ exhilarating vocal gymnastics add to the exuberance. The repetitive piano note in the intro stands as a cool tribute to spy movie fundamentals.

Shirley Bassey – "Goldfinger" (1964) 

A jazz star at the time, 27-year-old Shirley Bassey was inside the vocal booth on Aug. 20, 1964, struggling to reach those impossibly high notes at the end of "Goldfinger." Suddenly, the orchestra musicians heard some fidgeting, then saw a bustier land on top of the booth. After which the awesome Miss Bassey delivered the notes just the way they were supposed to sound: reckless, liberated, bombastic.

The message was loud and clear: by definition, Bond songs were meant to be fun and loopy ("such a cold finger beckons you to enter his web of sin"), interpreted with both panache and a serious touch. For an alternative reading, try the velvety, pared-down demo by original lyricist Anthony Newley.

Paul McCartney and Wings - "Live and Let Die" (1973) 

"Live and Let Die" was rock royalty: written by Paul and Linda, recorded with Wings and 10cc’s Eric Stewart, produced by Beatles helmer George Martin. Linda came up with the idea of a reggae section in the middle, and the instrumental pyrotechnics featured a massive symphony orchestra.

Ironically, one of the 007 producers suggested re-recording the vocals with Thelma Houston after Martin played him the finished "demo." Logic prevailed, and "Live and Let Die" remains to this day a highlight of McCartney’s concerts, hitting a sweet spot between the exalted and the meditative.

Nancy Sinatra – "You Only Live Twice" (1967)

If you need one desert island Bond theme that perfectly encapsulates the elusive poetry of Barry’s vision, "You Only Live Twice" is it. Self-professed "problem child" Nancy Sinatra was terrified of recording the song in London in front of an orchestra, and her final performance was composed using bits and pieces from 25 different takes.

Perhaps it was Sinatra’s underwhelming vocal power that made her performance so incredibly vulnerable. It is also one of Barry’s best arrangements — languid, exotic, devastatingly sensuous. And that spiraling melody... The song has been sampled by Robbie Williams, covered by Bjork and Natacha Atlas, and used on TV shows to evoke the idealized splendor of ‘60s pop culture.

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