W.C. Handy Heritage Awards
The 13th Annual W.C. Handy Heritage Awards observed the 136th birthday of W.C. Handy “Father of the Blues.” Memphis is internationally known as the “Home of the Blues” partially because of Handy’s musical heritage. The event was held Holiday Inn Airport Hotel. The audience was filled with music lovers and legends of Memphis music.
The program began with an In Memoriam honoring Hank Crawford, Fat Sonny Williams, Anita Tucker and Koko Taylor. The mood didn’t stay somber for long because the Haritage Awards are a celebration of Memphis music pioneers and careers. Presenter Bobby Rush included one or two of his famous improptu poems.
Other presenters included Percy Wiggins, Teenie Hodges, J Blackfopot and Norman West from the Soul Children, Vaneese Thomas, Bobby Rush, Eddie Harrision, Billy Moore and Malvin Massey. The music was a biographical depiction of Memphis Soul The house band – Lyte Speed R&B Orchestra featured Leroy Hodges on bass and Ben Cauley was one of the horn players. Highlights included the performances from Dr. Herman Green with Richard Cushing on bass, Marvell Thomas on keys and Vaneese and Carla Thomas sharing vocals on “Stormy Monday Blues”.
Veteran jazzartist Dr. Herman Green will receive the Lifetime Music Achievement Award. The category of Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for an individual who has made an extraordinary impact on the music industry, he is most deserving.
Other awards were presented to the following:
*Emerson Able, Jr – Music Legacy Award
(Stax Records Musician, Member of Isaac Hayes Movement) and retired band director – Manassas High School, mentor of dozens of outstanding Memphis musicians.
*Novella Smith Arnold – Music Business Award
Stax Records – Production Manager, Former Radio Disc Jockey, member of the Smithsonian Black Radio Hall of Fame.
Authentic Beale Street Musicians Awards:
*Toni Green – Soul Blues singer
*Otis Clay – Blues recording artist
*Spencer Wiggins – Rhythm & Blues Singer
*Earl “The Pearl” Banks – Blues guitarist/Singer
*The Climates – (Robert T. Chisem, Jr., David Glenn, James Rosser, Sr., Raymond Edwards) Sun Studio Rhythm & Blues recording artists. This is an Old School Rhythm & Blues singing group that recorded with Sun Records in the 1960’s.