The Grammy Awards just added Cajun and zydeco music to the categories it explicitly recognizes, but locally, the Big Easy Music Awards have honored achievements in a wide variety of indigenous and broader genres for two decades. In fact, Grammy-winner Terrance Simien won the first Big Easy zydeco award 20 years ago. The Big Easy Awards continue to honor everything from traditional and contemporary jazz to country and folk to hip-hop and electronica. This year's awards will honor several indivduals and groups for their musical achievements and support of the music community. The list of nominees has been released for 23 categories including Best Male and Female performers, Best Emerging Group or Artist and Best Album of 2007. Winners will be announced at the awards gala at Harrah's New Orleans Casino on Monday, April 21. Actor/comedian Harry Shearer will host the event, and the program will include performances by many of the nominated musicians.
Terence Blanchard will be honored as the Entertainer of the Year. The trumpeter, who is artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at Loyola University, originally developed music for the soundtrack to Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke with his quartet. Blanchard expanded that material for symphony and released A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina). In 2007, local music fans were able to hear the material for both sized ensembles, first at Jazz Fest with the quartet and then in concert with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. The music also reached much wider audiences, and Blanchard won the 2008 Grammy for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album. That recording is also nominated for the Big Easy Best Album award.
Two bands from both the Big Easy Cajun and zydeco categories were nominated for the combined-genre Grammy award. Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience took home the trophy. Also nominated were Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie, the Pine Leaf Boys and Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars.
A few R&B legends will be honored at the Big Easy Awards as well. Eddie Bo will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. The pianist has released more R&B singles than anyone except Fats Domino. Al 'Carnival Time" Johnson will receive the Music Heritage Award.
The Business Recognition Award will be shared by the Downtown Development District and the Young Leadership Council for the Wednesday at the Square spring concert series, which presents free performances in the CBD by a wide variety of local musicians.
The awards gala is sponsored by Gambit Weekly, Harrah's New Orleans Casino & Hotel, Abita Beer, WWOZ 90.7 FM, the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism and Coleman E. Adler & Sons. The event includes open bar, hors d'oeuvres and an after party at Masquerade at Harrah's. Tickets are $100; a limited number of tables for 10 are $1,000. Call 483-3129 to purchase tickets or for information. Proceeds benefit the Foundation for Entertainment Development and Education.
2008 Big Easy Music Awards
Honorary Music Chairman
Entertainer of the Year
Lifetime Achievement in Music
Ambassador of Music
Music Heritage Award
Al ' Carnival Time" Johnson
Business Recognition Award
Downtown Development District and Young Leadership Council
WWOZ Guardian of the Groove Award
Clinton Scott, Patti Averbuck and David Averbuck
2008 Big Easy Award Nominations
Greater St. Stephen's Choir
Ninevah Baptist Church Choir
Tyrone Foster & The Arc Singers
Bishop Lester Love
Bishop Paul Morton
Jumpin' Johnny Sansone
Little Freddie King
Rhythm and Blues
Al 'Carnival Time" Johnson
Walter 'Wolfman" Washington
Tom McDermott & Evan Christopher
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Traditional Brass Band
Pinstripe Brass Band
Treme Brass Band
Contemporary Brass Band
Hot 8 Brass Band
Rebirth Brass Band
Happy Talk Band
Big Blue Marble
Morning 40 Federation
Big Sam's Funky Nation
Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys
Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie
Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience
Pine Leaf Boys
Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys
Red Stick Ramblers
Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars
The Figs Band
Michael Hurtt and His Haunted Hearts
Michael Skinkus and Moyuba
New Orleans Bingo! Show
Alex McMurray and the Tin Men
George Porter Jr.
Emerging Group or Artist
Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?
Best Album of 2007
A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem For Katrina)
From the Corner to the Block
Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino
- Terence Blanchard will be honored as the Entertainer of the Year.
- Jacob Blickenstaff
- Al "Carnival Time" Johnson will receive a Music Heritage Award.
- Alyce Labry
- The Figs Band is nominated for Best Country/Folk Band.
- Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience is nominated for Best Zydeco Band.
- Eddie Bo will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.
- Rick Olivier
- Jon Cleary is nominated for Best Rhythm and Blues Artist.
- Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship? is nominated for Best Emerging Group or Artist.
- Steven Forster
- Marva Wright is nominated for Best Female Performer.
- Donald Harrison has been named an Ambassador of Music.
- Shamarr Allen is nominated for Best Emerging Group or Artist.