Larry Taylor runs for BF Board

Barrelhouse Bonni
Mon Jun 25 13:56:34 EDT 2007

Date:    Sun, 24 Jun 2007 20:17:02 -0400
From:    pat boyack <pat@PATBOYACK.COM>
Subject: Re: Larry Taylor runs for BF Board

On Sun, 24 Jun 2007 07:09:02 -0700, Tee <> wrote:

Every time this type of discussion come up it seems tempers flair, or at
least the tembre heats up. And it seems the loudest levels come from those
who want to blame the blacks for stating facts.

Pat Boyack:  And what facts are these?

The facts, Pat, are that record companies and festival promoters are
ignoring a large pool of very good middle aged black blues musicians,  not
only in Chicago but in many cities big and small, and giving more spots to
white acts. (See the cover of Big City Rhythm & Blues magazine, six times
a year, and behold the lesser-known black artists’ faces.)  There is a
large pool of black fans who have turned out for Bobby Blue Bland, the
late Little Milton, Bobby Rush, Denise LaSalle, etc. but who are ignored
by many white festival promoters.

The facts are in the numbers.  Joe Lempkoski in his post of June 21, 
noted that the racial split on Handy harmonica award nominations since
1991 is 58% white and 42% black. Charlie Musselwhite and Kim Wilson
combined have almost as many harmonica nominations as all of the black
players combined. On guitar, 56% of the nominees are not Black, and 27% of
all nominees are Ronnie Earl and Duke Robillard.

I also did a survey on overall Handy winners in the last two years:

In 2006, 10 white artists received awards; they were all under age 65. Of
15 black artists honored, six were deceased and all but one were over 65.
In May 2007, same story: 12 white artists won awards, all but one were
younger than 65. Of 13 African American winners, only two were younger
than 65, and two were deceased. NOT ONE of the 2007 “Best New Artist”
nominees was black. The message to black musicians, intended or not:
You’re worth nothing til you are old or dead; and besides, young whites
are taking over the blues.

I don’t believe that anyone set out on a racist campaign to knock black
artists out of the Handy Awards—at least I hope not. However, the Blues
Foundation board has set criteria for Handy nominations that strictly
require a nominee to have a recording issued in that particular year.  So
artists who attract record deals and promotion just keep getting more of
same, year after year, and more award nominations. Many black artists do
not have the means to launch their own recordings and promotions.

The BF, which has a mission to preserve and promote blues music, must
realize that the music will lose its soul and its appeal if it becomes too
far disconnected from the community of its origin. The BF needs procedures
that are more encouraging to emerging African American musicians. That’s
why Larry Taylor is challenging the Handy Awards rules.

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