The winners of the 2021 UKBlues Awards were announced last night at a ceremony on Sunday 9th May: an event that, though virtual in form, proved as prestigious, star-studded and rich in talent as ever. The awarding body, the UKBlues Federation, streamed the event via their Facebook page and YouTube channel. Despite the event being held virtually, the awards were announced live. If you missed the show, you can catch it at your leisure on the UKBlues Federation YouTube channel.
The evening was compèred by blues legend and broadcaster Paul Jones. Paul also presented the International Artist Award and also presented a special feature in remembrance of the late Chris Barber, in which Paul reminisced with Andy Fairweather Low about the remarkable and seminal man whom many credit with introducing the blues to the UK.
The evening culminated with a showstopping jam version of a song that seems well-suited to the moment — ‘Let The Good Times Roll‘ — featuring many of the winners and finalists from the 2021 UKBlues Awards.
The award categories were presented by star presenters, as follows, and the winners are:
Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year, presented by Bob Harris: Dom Martin
UK Blues Artist of the Year, presented by Cerys Matthews: Elles Bailey
Blues Band of the Year, presented by Jon Cleary: When Rivers Meet
Blues Instrumentalist of the Year, presented by Joe Bonnamassa: Matt Long
Jules Fothergill Young Blues Artist of the Year, presented by Lorna Fothergill: Connor Selby
Emerging Blues Artist of the Year, presented by Erja Lyytinen: When Rivers Meet
International Blues Artist of the Year, presented by Paul Jones: Shemekia Copeland
Dave Raven UK Blues-based Broadcaster of the Year, presented by Suellen Raven: Paul Long
Blues Album of the Year, presented by Mike Vernon: When Rivers Meet, We Fly Free
Blues-based Festival or Event of the Year: Great British Rock & Blues Festival, Skegness
Most Innovative Use of Virtual Media of the Year: Tuesday Night Music Club
Most Inspirational Online Performance of the Year: When Rivers Meet, for Rock the Lockdown
Unsung Blues Hero 2021, presented by Kaz Hawkins: Mark Horsley
Unsung Blues Hero 2021, presented by Ashwyn Smyth: Nick Westgarth
“Our congratulations go to all the winners,” says Ashwyn Smyth (Founder & Chair of the UKBlues Federation), “but also we want to take this opportunity to recognise and pay tribute — not just to the winners and the finalists in each category — but also to everybody involved in and with the blues in the UK, who have done what they can to keep music alive throughout this ongoing pandemic. Huge thanks go to Paul Long, who laboured long and hard putting the event together and producing it, as well as creating the final jam. Thanks too to Kev Hickman for his work creating the video. Also, thank-you to all the musicians who joined in and took part in the final jam, which you can also watch on our YouTube channel. And thank- you to the Board of the UKBlues Federation for all that they do every day to ensure that events like this can, and do, happen and are successful.
“The UKBlues Awards would not, however, happen without the very generous support of those firms, organisations and individuals who agreed to provide sponsorship both for the event and for the Awards themselves so, once again, we send them our thanks.”
Congratulations to all involved for an excellent event, celebrating the blues scene, to the finalists and winners, to the sponsors who made the Awards possible, and to all who contributed to this occasion. Thanks too to all those who watched the event live. Remember, it can still be viewed on the UKBlues Federation YouTube channel.