N-Da-Kno on Southern Soul with Jazzii A
Just Blues ~ Jus’ Blues Music Awards will Celebrate Blacks in the Blues on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at the Hilton Hotel in East Memphis, TN. I will interview the Founder/CEO of the Jus’ Blues Music Foundation – Charles Mitchell, Coday Records’ CEO/Founder – Anna Coday and one of the 2012 Honorees the Legendary, Grammy Nominated, Double Platinum Selling (Mr. Big Stuff) Jean Knight.
Jazzii – Charles, let’s start by you telling me and our readers who you are and a little of your background.
Charles – I have over 30 years of music business experience ranging from artist management to being executive producer on music productions to being the CEO and Founder of the Jus` Blues Foundation and Jus` Blues Music Management Company.
I love music and been involved in the business of music most of my life. The Blues happens to be most influential and outstanding to me because it was Blues music artists that I heard my parents playing. Blues was performed on the street corners and in the clubs during my upbringing. Even as I served in the Armed Forces, many of the guys who were musicians played Blues songs. So I’ve been fascinated by the Blues for a mighty long time.
In the 80’s, I served as label owner and President of Urban Records in Florida. I worked with some talented R&B artists like Casanova, Yvonne Jackson, Redd Davis, Walter Reed, and Sylvester Polk. Later I went to King Snake Records, where I got to work with some extraordinary Blues artists like; Kenny Neal, Raful Neal, James Peterson, Big Daddy Kinsey and the Kinsey Report and Lucky Peterson.
In the 90’s, I formed Jus` Blues Music initially as a management company and base to work special projects with artists and record companies. I worked with Gitanes and Birdology in France and Verve, Polygram, King Snake and some other labels in the States. I am blessed to have worked with the legendary Lowell Fulson, Trudy Lynn, Kenny Neal, and Lucky Peterson.
Lucky Peterson was exceptionally special. He was a music child prodigy whose career debuted on the Ed Sullivan Show back in the 60’s. I got to manage his career for 20 years, releasing over a dozen albums. I like to think I helped Lucky become a first call session musician for artists like Mavis Staples, Etta James, Wynton Marsalis, Bootsy Collins and many others. Working with him attracted many other artists to want to work with me.
I conceived the idea of recognizing Blues artists a long time ago. So I put together a team and the Jus’ Blues Music Awards first started as the Atlanta Heritage Blues Festival in 1995. Since then, we’ve produced twelve Award shows and numerous special events. We have been fortunate to have gained momentum and credibility from Blues & Soul music artists, industry professionals and fans worldwide.
Jazzii – Please tell us what prompted you to put on such an event as the Jus’ Blues Music Awards when there are already other Blues Awards in and around the area?
Charles – There are not many Blues Awards productions in this country. The Blues is America’s original and oldest music artform. History states that it was the strife and turmoil of Black people in America that spawned the lyrics and rhythms for stories and songs. Many of our stories were sad; hence he or she has the blues. Our people have always been innovative in making music from making beats by beating on anything and creating guitar licks from strings on a board and, of course, singing as a means of expressing our troubles.
Though the Blues is recognized around the world, it is not recognized in the mainstream music award shows. In business, Blues music has seemed to become segregated whereas we are hearing more of White artists in the Blues than Black artists in the Blues. We have no prejudice against any musician. However, the Jus’ Blues Music Foundation strives to keep the legacy of Blacks in Blues in the forefront.
Bobby Rush, Charles Mitchell, William Bell and Latimore
Jazzii – What makes the Jus’ Blues Music Awards different from the other awards?
Charles – The Jus` Blues Music Awards supports our flagship program Blues Got A Soul which supports music education and teaching the legacy of the Blues in schools. Considering the demise of Black music conferences, the JBMA Conference is a unique entertainment event that attracts Blues & Soul music artists, industry professionals and fans from across the globe. It is credited with being one of the most important Award Shows in Blues & Soul music for African-American performers and industry professionals. There currently are no productions that do what we do.
Jazzii – How do you feel about the Memphis Music Awards previously known as the W. C. Handy Awards allowing White Blues Artists to be entered and nominated in the Southern Soul Blues category when there are no white artists; solo, groups or bands playing or singing what we call Southern Soul Blues?
Charles – I think any organization honoring the brilliant works of musicians and industry professionals, no matter what their color or nationality is great. Our objective is to recognize Black artists popular to the Blues and Southern Soul genre and audience that the Grammy’s, American Music Awards, MTV and Billboard Awards don’t give any attention to.
Jazzii – On Monday night, February 27th there was Blues at the White House, did you watch it?
Charles – No and I wasn’t invited but heard about it from the newsreels and the Internet. I am very proud that our President shows his respect and admiration to the influence of music to the American people from the White House, the Kennedy Center and other venues. I’m sure the Blues is in him as he’s spent quality time in Chicago.
Jazzii – How do you feel about them having the Blues at the White House and not having but one of the legends there and that was B.B. King and no female legends?
Charles – I feel great about Blues in the White House. There were lots of legends in the room that night. The concert in the East Room was a planned tribute to the Blues and Black History Month. Accompanying legend B.B. King was Buddy Guy, Keb Mo, Trombone Shorty, Shemekia Copeland, Booker T. Jones, newcomer Gary Clark, Jr., and a great rhythm section of brothers performing with Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and other musicians greatly influenced by the Blues.
Jazzii – I feel that our roots, heritage of music and Black race was totally disrespected, as a whole I feel that it was a complete mockery to what we (you, I and others) are working so hard to preserve, to have again, the White artists doing and paying tribute to our Mothers and Fathers that came before us to make a way for our music to be heard by many and exposed to others. Let me set the record straight here before we go any further by saying in no way am I prejudice or have a problem with White artists or any other race singing the blues. However, I do put it on the same scale of disrespect to the KKK with me getting a sheet and cutting three holes in it and wearing it, having Bobby Rush to pay tribute to Willie Nelson/Kenny Rogers or getting a Denise LaSalle or Millie Jackson to pay honor to Dolly Parton or to bring it a little younger getting a TK Soul or a Sir Charles Jones to give honor to a Randy Travis when you bring in white artists to pay tribute to such legends as Etta James and Sonny Boy Williamson.
There are certain things you just don’t do. They could have gotten a Beyoncé, Karen Wolfe, Roni or why not Denise LaSalle? Denise LaSalle is the Queen of the Blues, she recorded at Chess Records, she had worked with Etta James, she is internationally known and with several major hits. Why weren’t Bobby Rush, Bobby “Blue” Bland or Denise LaSalle on that bill? I would like to know why no other form of the Blues was on the show. They had Mick Jagger and he’s rock. Now don’t get me wrong, I like me some Mick Jagger and them Stones. But do you see where I’m going with this? You don’t have to answer this question if you don’t want to and it will be ok with me. But this one is real personal because, I know firsthand how our people have been looked over and their music ignored.
Charles – Well this is why the Jus` Blues Music Foundation exists. We strive to promote the Blues cultural heritage and preservation through model arts education programs, our business practices and philanthropic efforts by Nurturing The Soul Of The Blues among youth and performing artists nationwide and worldwide.
Jazzii – OK Charles, I had a moment but back to you and the Jus’ Blues Awards (sniggle). Please tell us when & where the Jus’ Blues Awards will be held and how people can purchase tickets?
Charles – This year we’re back in Memphis for our twelfth annual event. The 2012 Jus’ Blues Music Awards Conference is August 1st through 3rd with our major events at the beautiful Hilton East Memphis Hotel.
Day One is The Night of the Living Legends Dinner. This year we’re honoring Jimmy McCracklin, Denise LaSalle, Willie Clayton, Jean Knight, William Guest of The Pips, Peggy Scott Adams and others.
Day Two is the Blues Got a Soul Technology Conference. Hosted by industry professionals and successful artists, this is where we share with artists how to be better business professionals. It’s a must-attend event for music professionals and artists interested in promoting, marketing and driving sales via new technologies.
The Night of Day Two is the 2012 Jus` Blues Music Awards. Our 12th annual event features performances and awards to Blues and Soul artists and groups who were unanimously nominated as the best in their respective categories by popular votes from voting on the www.jusblues.org website.
This year we’ve included the Blues Got a Soul Kids Workshop Series. This is a special two day Education and Technology Workshop Series designed especially for middle and high school students. The workshop will focus on the history and evolution of Blues music and technology trends. The kids will get to co-mingle with professional musicians to enhance their experience.
And of course, we’re gonna party every night! For more information about this year’s Jus’ Blues Music Awards Conference and events, go to our website at www.jusblues.org.
Jazzii – The Jus’ Blues Music Awards pays tribute and honor to our legends, please tell us how you go about selecting them and who will be honored at the awards and what is, and if there is any criteria needed to be considered as an honoree?
Charles – The Jus` Blues Music Selection Committee chooses our honorees along with the categories and artists and industry professionals we recognize. The selection process includes input by Blues & Soul music magazine writers & editors, radio personnel, Blues & Soul music website hosts, Blues Organizations and other industry professionals. However, it is the fans that choose the winners in each category by voting on the Jus’ Blues Music Awards ballot online at www.jusblues.org.
Jazzii – Who will be the Honoree(s) for this year?
Charles – The 2012 Jus’ Blues Music Awards Honorees are Jimmy McCracklin, Denise LaSalle, Willie Clayton, Jean Knight, William Guest of The Pips, Peggy Scott Adams, Bev Johnson, Skip Pitts (Guitar player on Isaac Hayes “Shaft”) and a few others. We’re also doing a tribute to Latimore and adding an Award in his namesake.
Jazzii – I know that the name of this event is called ‘Jus’ Blues Music Awards, but are there any other genre of music awarded at this award ceremony?
Charles – It seems nowadays, the music business has put music artists in categories. At one time Black artists were either Jazz or Soul. Now we’re all over the place. At Jus’ Blues we keep it simple. We cover Blacks in Blues and Soul, however, we recognize people in specific categories of accomplishment.
Jazzii – Are these awards strictly for traditional blues or are other categories under the Blues heading included and if so what are some of the categories?
Charles – You’ve really got to come to the Jus’ Blues Music Awards Conference! We recognize a number of artists for their accomplishments in a number of categories. The Award nominees will be live and online in April.
Jazzii – Being an industry executive yourself, where do you see the music industry and our genre of music headed?
Charles – The artistry of music hasn’t changed much. Black musicians are in every genre of music. There’s still a lot of great creativity put into music projects. However, the business of the music industry has changed immensely. Technology is the reason for this huge change.
The making of music is more technical and the marketing of music is mostly technical. Gone by the wayside are traditional music stores and radio station formats. People are listening to music via satellite radio, the Internet and by their own personal compilations. Amazon.com and iTunes are now the largest music retailer on the planet. Technology has changed the game.
Our Blues Got A Soul Technology Conference helps educate and empower artists to be able to direct their own career destiny by learning how to properly utilize technology along with industry professionals to better promote their music and passion.
Jazzii – What piece of advice do you have to offer the up and coming artists about how to make an impact and get a foot hold in this music business?
Charles – Network, network, network. You’ve got to meet people by getting out in the public, preferably performing. Definitely register and attend music conferences like the upcoming Jus’ Blues Music Awards Conference. Some great minds are in attendance all in one place. You’ve got to create your own opportunities!
Jazzii – In closing, is there anything that you would like to say that I may not have asked you, that you would like to share with our readers?
Charles – I believe music is the soundtrack of our lives. It links us to pertinent life experiences, good and sometimes not so good. Whether you’re an amateur musician or a professional, enjoy what you do and do it with passion. When you perform with passion, you’ll find people will feel your passion and perhaps play your music for decades to come!