This year’s Blues Music Awards ceremony will be unlike any of its predecessors. In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, the annual BMA gala will take place online in living rooms around the world instead of onstage in Memphis. The festivities will commence on May 3 at 5 p.m. EDT, 4 p.m. CDT, and 2 p.m. PDT, and will be live-streamed on The Blues Foundation’s Facebook page and co-broadcasted on its YouTube channel . Barbara Newman, Blues Foundation President and CEO states “our goal this year is to create a global community from all corners of the world, coming together to celebrate the music and heal our souls.”
Multi-BMA winning and GRAMMY® Award nominated artist Shemekia Copeland will host the event from her living room and BMA nominees will contribute exclusive performances recorded in their homes. Like prior BMA ceremonies, this online event will also feature announcements of all nominees and award winners, along with some special guest appearances. A full list of 2020 BMA nominees can be found here.
Not only will the BMA show emanate from artists’ living rooms around the world, but it can be enjoyed by fans from their own homes while socially distancing— making this event one big communal party. Preserving, celebrating and promoting the blues are core missions of The Blues Foundation, which marks its milestone 40th anniversary this year. This unique online experience will allow Facebook viewers to share their thoughts and comments with fellow blues enthusiasts watching worldwide as they celebrate blues’ grand night together.
Of special note, the Foundation has created the COVID-19 Blues Musician Emergency Relief Fund to assist full-time professional blues musicians who have lost their income source due to tour and event cancellations into the foreseeable future. 2020 BMA ticket holders are being asked to convert their purchases into donations to be applied directly to the fund. Monies have already been distributed to blues musicians for rent/mortgage, utilities, cell phone bills, car payments and other vital necessities with hopes for continued fund growth to allow The Blues Foundation to help as many blues musicians as possible. Donations may be made directly online here.
The Blues Foundation is a world-renowned Memphis-based organization whose mission is to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, the Foundation has approximately 4,000 individual members and 173 affiliated blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals worldwide. Its signature honors and events — the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame inductions, International Blues Challenge, and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards — make it the international hub of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance for musicians in need, while Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues Scholarships expose new generations to blues music. The Blues Hall of Fame Museum, located in Downtown Memphis, adds the opportunity for blues lovers of all ages to interact with blues music and history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the global blues community with answers, information, and news.