Blues Critic Awards
2011 READERS POLL
Southern Soul Blues
As voted by Blues Critic readers
January 4 , 2012
The music industry, as regards record sales, is still in transition and on the ropes thanks to piracy ("bootlegging") both on the Internet and on the streets but 2011 was actually the first year since 2001 where music sales didn't shrink ten percent or more from the year prior. In fact ,there was an actual increase. Likely many folks came to realize that illegal downloads and fake copies of cds just aren't as good as the real thing. During a Web seminar presentation by NARM, SoundScan senior VP David Bakula reported that total music sales through Oct. 30 climbed to 353 million units, vs. 336 million in 2010. Overall album sales were up 3% over last year, with 249 million albums sold versus 242 million last year. Digital album sales boomed 19.7% to 81 million, but physical album sales continued to decline, dropping 3.5%, with 168 million sold this year. However, Bakula noted that the drop in CD sales has abated somewhat, following 2010's precipitous 20% decline.
Unfortunately that increase doesn't trickle down to Southern Soul since stores like Wal Mart don't stock much if any Blues. Thus we must stress again. BUY your Southern Soul and Blues legally from a legitimate source. If you want to "stick it" to the music industry just direct that anger toward major labels, ie "popular" music .
The Southern Soul world lost some members of it's family this year. RIP Marvin Sease, J. Blackfoot, Reggie P and Lee Shot Williams.
This year we added a couple new categories to the voting process. "Best Song That Should've Been A Hit" and "Most Underrated Veteran"
2012 is already shaping up to be a great year. Garland Green (of "Jealous Kind Of Fella") is releasing his first album in 30 years on February 7th. At the same time there is heavy buzz surrounding Vel Omarr, who brings back the old school sound of Sam Cooke. Additionally, new albums are expected (and overdue) in the first quarter from the likes of Sir Charles Jones, T.K. Soul, Barbara, O.B. Buchana, Donnie Ray, Sir Jonathan Burton and more....
Best Southern Soul/R & B Album
Donnie Ray "Who's Rockin' You" (Ecko)
Mel Waiters rebooted his own label Brittney Records and released the successful "Say What's On Your Mind". Willie Clayton released two well-received albums (including the nominated "The Tribute: One Man One Voice"). Carl Sims ("Hell On My Hands") and Sheba Potts-Wright ("Let Your Mind Go Back") returned strong. Former "Best New Artist" Stephanie Pickett and Lacee' further cemented their status as the very best female singers out there with "A Woman's Soul" and "Soulful" respectively. Nevertheless, This year's top vote earners were runnerup Kenne' Wayne ("The MVP") and this year's "Best Southern Soul/R&B Album" Donnie Ray "Who's Rockin' You".
Best Soul Blues Album
Bobby Rush "Show You A Good Time" (Deep Rush)
While this genre ("Southern Soul Blues") is often referred to as either just "Soul Blues" or "Southern Soul" there is a difference between "Southern Soul" and actually "Soul Blues". For the second year in a row Bobby Rush gets the prize. This year for "Show You A Good Time". Other nominees were Grady Champion "Dreamin'" (Runnerup), Travis Haddix "Old Man In Love", Roy Roberts "Strange Love", Vernon Garrett "Don't Fall In Love With Me", Dr Feelgood Potts "Memphis Blues International", Johnnie Rawls "Memphis Still Got Soul", Little Phil "Never Gonna Give You Up", Maurice Davis "Play Boy" and Uvee Hayes "True Confessions".
Best Southern Soul/R & B Song
"When You Get Drunk" by Mel Waiters (Brittney)
This was an extremely close race. No one song stood out head and shoulders above the pack but, rather, 8 all battled fiercely for the 2011 Blues Critic Award. Carl Marshall's poignant "I Lived It All", Sir Jonathan Burton's "Too Much Booty Shakin'", Latimore's "A Woman's Love", Lacee's "I Can't Say No", newcomer Klass Brotherhood Bands' "Sugaa Shack", The Revelations feat Tre Williams with Vick Allen ("I Gotta Have It") and runnerup Floyd Taylor "(Time Out) Cut To The Chase" were within 50 votes of winner for Best Southern Soul/R&B Song of 2011 "When You Get Drunk" by Mel Waiters. Interestingly, Mel released a new non-album song, "No Curfew" later in the year, which will be eligible next year.
Best Song That Should've Been A Hit
"If You Only Let Me Kick It Witchu" by Mister Zay (CDS)
This was one of two new categories added this year in order to give more credit to where credit was due. Also, by saying "Should've Been" a hit doesn't mean it's too late for any of these songs to become a hit this year. This category contains songs released in 2011 that voters felt should've gotten more airplay but, for whatever reason, were not high on the charts in 2011. Runnerup OB Buchana (for "We Don't Get Along Until We're Gettin' It On") did have a hit with the title track of his album ("That Thang Thang") but voters believed he had more than one on that album. Mr Sam's "Put A Little Water With", released on Ecko Records, the Marvin Sease-tribute "Gone On Pt. 2" by Larry Shannon Hargrove, Bobbye Doll Johnson's "Cheaters Never Win" and "I'll Be There For Ya" by golden voiced Vel Omarr were also highly rated by fans as deserving "hit" status. The winner, however, was Mister Zay for "If You Only Let Me Kick It Witchu" (produced by Carl Marshall). Perhaps this category will give these songs a second chance this year.
Best Slow Jam
"I Can't Say No" by Lacee (Advantage)
Another very close race. Both Carl Sims ("Hell On My Hands") and runnersup The Revelations feat. Tre Williams with Vick Allen ("I Gotta Have It") were within 50 votes of winner Lacee ("Can't Say No"). They faced stiff competition from TK Soul ("The Greatest Emotion"), Floyd Taylor ("Baby I Love You"), Willie Clayton ("Be With Me"), Bigg Robb ("The Crying Zone") and more from the likes of Simeo, Sir Charles Jones, Dee Bradley, Bobby Conerly, Big G and Black Zack.
Best Dance Or Funk Song
Sir Jonathan Burton "Too Much Booty Shakin'" (Aviara Music)
This was an obvious choice. Sir Jonathan Burton's "Too Much Booty Shakin'" was one of the most popular songs of the year and even had it's own dance. Still, last year's winner Ms Jody ("Southern Soul Dip"), Jim Bennett ("The Body Roll"), Ricky White ("Stacked In The Back") and runnerup Mel Waiters ("When You Get Drunk") got a fair share of votes as well. Special note: Kenne' Wayne's smash "Ride It Like A Cowboy" peaked last year but was still a popular hit in the clubs, especially Louisiana.
Best Down Home Blues Song
"Make That Monkey Jump" by Grady Champion
Thanks in great part to Jackson, Mississippi's WMPR Grady Champion's fun "Make That Monkey Jump" has been voted "Best Down Home Blues Song" for 2011. It beat out heavy contenders like "Sniffers" by Bobby Rush, Travis Haddix' cheeky "Cialis Before I See Alice" and runnerup "I'm Your Maintenance Man" by Omar Cunningham. Other nominees were Nellie Tiger Travis for "I Ain't Gonna Raise No Grown Ass Man", "Love Monkey" by Donnie Ray, "Ex-Wife Blues" by Cherone Brown, "Jammin' On The Blues" by Chuck Roberson, "Don't Treat Me Like Stepchild" by TJ Hooker-Taylor, "Hungry Woman" by Pat Cooley and "Hey Baby" by Roy Roberts
Best Vocal Performance FEMALE
Stephanie Pickett on "Only Time I Get Lonely" (Aviara Music)
Runnerup Lacee already won for "Best Slow Jam" with "Can't Say No" and she very nearly was voted "Best Vocal Performance FEMALE" as well. This was not to be thanks to big-voiced Stephanie Pickett, who picked up the award for her bouncy hit "Only Time I Get Lonely" with a mere 21 votes more than Lacee'! We were tempted to call it a tie being that over 23,000 votes were cast in this category and a mere 21 vote difference. Other notables were Ms. Jody for "When You're Give A Damn Don't Give A Damn No More", Sheba Potts-Wright for "I've Done All I Can", Uvee Hayes for "Steal Away To The Hideaway", Pat Cooley for "Hungry Woman", Diedra for "Rent Man", Bobbye Doll Johnson for "Cheaters Never Win" and Monro Brown for "I'm In Love With A Man"
Best Vocal Performance MALE
Willie Clayton on "Be With Me" (EMG)
Lots of product has been pouring in from Mr. Clayton as of late. From 2008 until the end of last year six full albums have been released. (2 in 2008; "My Tyme", "Soul And Blues", 1 in 2009, "Love, Romance & Respect" and 3 (!) in 2011, including the album from which "Be With Me", this year's winner for "Best Vocal Perfomance: MALE" was extracted- "The Tribute: One Man, One Voice"). Runnerup Carl Sims also released one of his best ballads in years with "Hell On My Hands". Other fan faves included J. Blackfoot, Patrick Green, Al Lindsey, Mister Zay, Vick Allen, Tre Williams, TK Soul and Floyd Taylor.
Best Performance By A Duo Or Group
T.K. Soul Omar Cunningham Vick Allen "Haters Gone Hate" (Soulful)
Teaming up TK Soul Omar Cunningham Vick Allen, three of the most popular male singles in Southern Soul/R& Reggie P was an obvious recipe for success. But their very true song "Haters Gone Hate" had others hot on their tail. Runnersup The Revelations featuring Tre Williams & Vick Allen, newcomers The Klass Brotherhood Band with "Sugaa Shack"; followed by Hog Pin ("Red Dress"), LJ Echols & LaMorris Williams ("Get Close To Me"), Uvee Hayes and Otis Clay ("Steal Away To The Hideaway"), Willie Clayton & Swamp Dogg ("Cheating In The Daylight"), Simeo & Floyd Taylor (I'm 'Bout It 'Bout It (Remix)", Carl Marshall & Rue Davis ("Let's Step"), Jesse James & Millie Jackson ("Let's Get A Room Somewhere") and Certified Slim with Avail Hollywood ("Beat It Up")
Best New Artist
"Best New Artist" is the most hotly-contested race annually with fans of each artist voting incessantly to help the artist get noticed. This year's crop accidently included a longtime veteran, Shirley Jones, who we mistook as a different Shirley Jones than the one who sang with The Jones Girls. Despite little fanfare she still managed to be "runnerup" as 'Best New Artist" in the Southern Soul world, despite having only released one song ("Totally Confused"). Other nominees were Adrena, Charles Blakely, LGB, Sonny Mack, Monro Brown, Gina Brown, G'Cue, The Unxpected, Fel Davis and The Klass Brotherhood Band. ALL received a fair share of votes. The winner, however, was former America's Got Talent competitor Queen Emily of Malaco Records. Malaco released a four track sampler in the U.S., "Queen Emily Sings", while the full self-titled release has only been released in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe
Most Underrated Veteran
New category this year: "Most
Underrated Veteran" is Mississippi's Luther Lackey. He's one of the best
out there but always seems to be stepped over. He has released five albums thus
far with hits like "I'm Scared Of Getting Caught", "I Should Have Stayed
Scared", "If She's Cheating I Don't Want To Know" & "It Ain't Easy Being The
Best Record Producer(s) Of The Year
Carl Marshall had won this award two years in a row and runner-up John Ward is always near the top but Mel Waiters re-booted his Brittney Records label and put out strong tracks on himself, Charles Wilson, Chandra Calloway, Hog Pin, Lomax & more. Other nominees were Pete Peterson, Simuel Overall aka Simeo, Vick Allen, Bigg Robb, Morris J. Williams, Archie Love, Ron Johnson and Frank McKinney.
The BLUES CRITIC staff pick...
SOUTHERN SOUL ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Although he didn't "win" any of the voting awards by himself he was amongst the top (as he seems to be every year) in each category he was in. Despite not releasing a new album in 2011 he placed two songs from his 2009 album, "Truth Be Told", on the charts ("I Need Some Attention", "I'm Thankful For My Woman On The Side") and was featured on two other hits in 2011 ("Haters Gone Hate" by TK Soul Omar Cunningham Vick Allen and "I Gotta Have It" by The Revelations feat Tre Williams with Vick Allen). This goes along with his writing, production and live performance work for the year