First we want to let everyone know that we broke our own record for fundraising for Generation Blues. In the past we had raised between $800-900, but this year... drum roll please.... The 2020 WiB Showcase raised $1317 dollars to send young musicians to blues camps around the country!
Keeshea Pratt outdid herself as our opening performer and MC. She really went out of her way to learn about each artists we showcased. Gaye Adegbalola, our VIP guest not only performed for the showcase but was part of Dr Marie Trouts Women in Blues panel and hit a lot of jams to the delight of many. Redd Velvet changed things up this year and brought a band to back her historical journey of blues.
Cannot tell you how many compliments we got on the All Female House band with Meg Williams, Logan Laymen, Lola and Debbie Flood. They did an amazing job and busted their backsides all day. We must give extra kudos to Southern Avenue drummer TK for lending us the extra kick drum for two of our showcase artists. A few of our showcase acts made it to semifinals of the IBC! Kudos to Erin McCawley, Mandi Strachota and Beverly Davis. This year we gave out another Honorary Ovary to Norman Jackson for backing Conita Silva during the showcase. Claudette Miller broke her ankle the week before and still did an amazing set. How wonderful to see Pat Pepin back on stage after a hiatus! Jazz Colette of Blue Moon Marquee surprised many with her multi instrument playing. Natalie Faith May have been our youngest performer but still came off as a seasoned pro. Having Val Starr back on our showcase stage was a delight, and Heather Stratham of Thunder Gypsy kicked serious backside.
We really have to give extra thanks to Endless Blue Records and Mick Kolassa for his sponsoring the showcase and live-streams. A big shout out to Blue Monday Monthly and John ‘Blueshammer’ Hammer for his sponsorship helping us bring in Gaye Adegbalola and to South Central Indiana Blues Society for not just sponsorship but coming on as staff and helping run things smoothly. Vinny gave us some extra press love and Broads 4 Blues helped get Gaye Adegbalola interviewed for BMM as well as continued fundraising. On fund raising, Marie Wilson gives monthly through the United Way campaign at her job and her company added matching funds, meaning we have something coming in monthly to build our coffers! Did you know you could do that? Check with your company!
Speaking of staff, Marie Wilson came back and not only helped keep the merch and check in table going, but helped run every live-stream we shared. She really worked like a steam engine. What was really cool was having female blues artists help run the show this year. MIchele D’Amour helped with the merch table and Brigitte Purdy Rios did artists management and helped warm up the house band with a rousing song. We were lucky to have Lori Grayboyes back as our runner and she is great at wrangling talent. Those two worked well together and assisted Alfreds sound man Chris keep us on time and running without any issues. Crazy part is, the WiB Board Chairman Kyle Deibler was not there this year but still did all the set up of stage plots for our performers and kept in touch with Chris at the club to make sure we ran well.
When you think of all the amazing women we were able to livestream this year with Erica Brown hosting our regular streams and Lisa Kitchens helping with our Beale St streams, we were able to put focus on a long list of talented WiB. Erica interviewed almost two dozen WiB and Lisa helped us find artists at IBC check in and during semifinal night. Even Leen Velthuis from ABIK Radio Promotions in the Netherlands pitched in to help us with Streams at Automatic Slims, and he has promised to offer a FREE promo pack each year during our lottery drawing. This years was won by the Pamela Betti Band. Yes, he earned his Honorary Ovaries, now called the Terri Robbins award for her coining the phrase.
We were also very lucky to have help from Andrea Zucker who not only made this years poster design, but also took shots of all of our showcase artists and even lent equipment to make live-streams go smoothly. Not sure where she gets the energy but she worked day and night to make things go well.
Some extra shout outs to folks in Memphis who hung our posters. Tater Reds, Strange Cargo and of course Doc Malcom and Memphis Music. Big love to the entire staff and crew at Alfred’s on Beal and Automatic Slims for helping host us and if you have not eaten at Slims yet...you must try. Oh my goodness, the food there!
As your CBW, I worry I have forgotten someone here and if that has happened, tell me so I can add them and make sure they get the thanks deserved. If you see typos, remember the hand and know I wish I typed better!
The entire Board of the National Women in Blues is thankful to each of you for being part of our mission to support, promote, mentor and edify female blues artists from around the world. We also want to thank The Blues Foundation and the International Blues Challenge, because without their event we would be hard pressed to have access to so much talent in just a few days.
Thank you all for your support and assistance! We are honored to be part of your journeys in blues. Stay tuned for some news on our new web site and membership. We will be offering discounts in our shop to members and the new data base of female blues artists will be available to our members. Little secret we can now reveal... we will be offering free memberships to Booking Agents, Managers and a few other who might hire WiB! These will be vetted and designed to give WiB an edge.
We really have to give extra thanks to Endless Blue Records and Mick Kolassa for his sponsoring the showcase and live-streams.