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Fresh Off His GRAMMY Win For '662,' Young Bluesman Christone "Kingfish" Ingram Is Just Getting Started
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram

Photo: Justin Hardiman

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Fresh Off His GRAMMY Win For '662,' Young Bluesman Christone "Kingfish" Ingram Is Just Getting Started

23-year-old blues practitioner Christone "Kingfish" Ingram picked up his first golden gramophone at the 2022 GRAMMYs, for Best Contemporary Blues Album. What does his immense promise mean for the future of the blues?

GRAMMYs/Jun 10, 2022 - 08:16 pm

At the 2022 GRAMMYs, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram strode onto the stage in Las Vegas and accepted the first golden gramophone of his young career. Beating out industry giants like Joe Bonamassa, Shemekia Copeland, and Steve Cropper, the 23-year-old took home the GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Blues Album.

"For years, I had to sit and watch the myth that young Black kids are not into the blues," an emotional Ingram said as he accepted the GRAMMY. "So, I just hope I can show the world different."

That's just what Ingram has been doing for the better part of a decade. Hailing from the blues Mecca of Clarksdale, Mississippi, Ingram took an early interest in the blues and started gigging around the area while still in junior high. In 2014, a student band he was in — from Clarksdale's Delta Blues Museum — performed at the White House.

By the time he was 18, Ingram was regularly playing with such guitar heroes as Gary Clark, Jr. and Eric Gales. In 2019, he released his debut album, Kingfish, on the celebrated label Alligator Records.

Kingfish was nominated for a GRAMMY and helped win its namesake five Blues Music Awards in May. Ingram hit the road, opened for Vampire Weekend and Buddy Guy, and was celebrated on the covers of Guitar World and DownBeat and by Rolling Stone and Elton John — among others.

During COVID, Ingram wrote and recorded 662, his follow-up record with GRAMMY-winning producer Tom Hambridge. Named for his area code in his native Mississippi, the album was a more personal statement from Ingram, reflecting not just the pandemic but also the recent death of his mother.

Roundly praised in the press, the record earned Ingram his GRAMMY. And just a few weeks later, he earned two Blues Music Awards for Best Contemporary Blues Artist — Male and Best Contemporary Blues Album, bringing his career tally to nine BMAs with no losses.

Ingram wasn't able to pick up his BMAs, however — he resumed touring as soon as restrictions allowed. That's where GRAMMY.com caught up with him, as he traveled from Portland, Oregon, to Los Angeles for a show.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

With this GRAMMY and two more BMAs, your profile raised considerably in the weeks before this leg of the tour. Are you seeing the impact of those wins on the road?

Oh, man. It's been fun. Already everyone is excited and ecstatic over the wins. So, yeah, it's been really beautiful.

Are you seeing new faces or bigger crowds at the shows?

Most definitely. You have some people in the crowd chanting congratulations on the GRAMMY win, so you know that's what they are there for.

What was that night like — when you got to go up on stage there and accept the GRAMMY in Las Vegas?

I know you probably hear this a lot, but it was like I had no words — because I was definitely nervous. It was a short walk [to the podium], but it was also a long walk because I had all these words piling up in my head of what I was going to say.

So, I just had to get up there and just try to make it brief so I didn't embarrass myself. It was very nervewracking, for sure.

Your acceptance was brief, but you packed a powerful message — that the blues are not dead.

Not at all, not at all. You know, that's just a myth that people put out. There are definitely young kids and young Black kids that are into this style of music. Not all of us are really into top 40 like that for sure.

And then, a few weeks later, you added a couple more awards to your mantle at the BMAs.

Yeah, man. We missed the awards because we were in Dallas for a show. But we racked up two more BMAs, and we're definitely thankful for that and, you know, everybody who holds me in a high regard enough to even consider me for those awards.

How did you find out about the BMAs?

I had a friend text me. She was texting me throughout the show, and she was like, "Yeah, you just won again."

Those awards push your BMA tally to nine in three years. You've won every time you've been nominated, which is very impressive.

It's kinda strange. Nominated for nine, and we've won all nine. It's definitely something to see. I hear from certain people it's a record, actually.

Did you expect you would get all these accolades and all this attention so early in your career?

Not at all. Obviously, I have been doing this a long time, and I think some dues have been paid. But I still didn't think that all of this would come this early. I thought at least when I was like around 30 or something like that, but I'm really glad to see everybody really digging what I do.

There are guys who have been playing the blues for decades, and they haven't gotten a GRAMMY.

I know, but I can truly say we kind of grinded and work hard in recent years. Not saying that they haven't, but at the same time, there's definitely a lot of grinding behind us that's for sure. It didn't just happen.

You've also gotten to work with so many of your heroes, legends like Buddy Guy and Eric Gales. Do those relationships mean more to you than all the hardware?

Most definitely, because those were the guys that I was Googling and YouTube-ing. So, to even be put in the conversation with those guys or to even jam with them or even have them like what I do — it's a really beautiful thing, man, cause I'm very inspired and influenced by what they do.

What do you think they see in you and your music that they want to play with you and help bring you along?

I think something that everybody sees — especially other musicians — is passion. I'm definitely very passionate about what I do. When it comes to the blues, I kind of look at it as being my history, my heritage. So it's something I'm very passionate about.

It must be tough with your schedules, but have you been able to develop relationships with any of these guys? I know you and Eric Gales have played together a lot, and obviously, y'all are from the same region.

Every time we see each other there's always love, and we even see each other when we're not on the same stage. Matter of fact, I was texting Eric the same night of the BMAs because he had won one as well. So yeah, there's definitely a connection, a bond there.

So, has all this attention got you thinking about next steps — about where you want to take your career?

I'm always thinking about that, because there are so many things I want to do musically. I have different album ideas. I want to put out a gospel record sometime soon. Yeah, so it definitely lit a fire under me, for sure. I want to release more music and show the world what I have to offer creatively.

What was it you wanted to accomplish with 662?

Well, for one, I just wanted to just show people what I had been going through in the last two years. I wanted to get more deep and more personal with the songs than I had on my first record. And musically, I wanted to just show the growth that I had the last two years as far as my voice and different guitar tones and positions and whatnot.

How did the pandemic affect your creative process in making 662?

Honestly, I feel like it did some good, in a way, because we actually wrote the album in quarantine. We wrote it from, I wanna say, about May to September 2020. And not only that, it was also good for me because that was time that I could just sit back and workshop on my songs, right? I could workshop on my guitar skills, so that I could be ready for the studio in September.

What are you guys working on now? What projects are in the pipeline?

We've got a couple things, musically. We're always of the hunt for different producers. I've always wanted to do something with like hip hop and the blues. So, we got something like that brewing. I can't really speak about it that much, but we got that brewing. And, yeah, just out here doing shows and making more music for sure.

It must feel great to be back performing in front of live audiences again.

We're really enjoying the shows and got a couple more left on the schedule. It's just so great to see everybody, man. I appreciate everybody's support and everything.

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GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.

 

Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

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Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 GRAMMY.com

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or ticketing@grammy.com.

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy

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Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske
Seattle

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards