southern soul blue


Blues Critic Awards


Southern Soul Blues


As voted by Blues Critic readers...


FYI: Winners in the annual Blues Critic Awards for Southern Soul are strictly based on a Voting Process. We do not choose the winners. Every year tens of thousands of website visitors choose from an online ballot posted in December. The only awards picked by the Blues Critic staff are "Southern Soul Artist Of The Year" and "Best Record Producer". This year we picked Tucka for Artist and Ricky White for producer. God bless...

Best Southern Soul/R & B Album

Sir Charles Jones "Portrait Of A Balladeer"

Despite the growing popularity of releasing digital-only (MP3) singles to avoid the costs of creating and manufacturing a full CD it was another stellar year for Southern Soul/R&B Albums. There were strong entrees from veterans (Willie Clayton, TK Soul, Donnie Ray, Candi Staton, OB Buchana, Ms Jody, Sheba Potts-Wright, Patrick Henry) and hit albums by rookies or relatively new players in the game (Avail Hollywood, J Wonn, Louisiana Blues Brothas, Pokey, Tucka, etc..) but Sir Charles Jones pulls away with a win for his latest set, "Portrait Of A Balladeer", which produced the big hits "So Beautiful" and "Do You Feel Like Partyin'?". Runner-up was TK Soul with "Life After Love".

Best Soul Blues Album

Grady Champion "Bootleg Whiskey" (Waldoxy)

Grady Champion took another big leap in his career by signing with the greatest Soul Blues record label of the modern era (Malaco/Waldoxy) for an album ("Bootleg Whiskey") that combined his Mississippi Jump Blues with Malaco's familiar horn-backed Soul Blues (ala Little Milton, Bobby Blue Bland and Artie Blues Boy White). One cut, "South Side", was an inescapable jam throughout the chitlin' circuit (especially Mississippi) just like his 2011 smash "Make That Monkey Jump" (2011 Blues Critic Award winner). The champion Champion faced heat from the always reliable and frequent Award winner Bobby Rush (with BlindDog Smokin'), Travis Haddix, Uvee Hayes, Vel Omarr, Eddie Cotton, Stevie J, Vivacious Val McKnight and runner(s)-up Otis Clay with Johnny Rawls' aptly-titled "Soul Brothers".

Best Southern Soul/R & B Song

"I Got This Record" by J Wonn (Music Access)

There was no shortage of successes in the songs department in 2014. T.K. Soul scored his biggest hit on years ("Looking For A Lady"). Lenny Williams continued delivering soulful R&B ("Didn't I"). Sir Charles Jones teamed with Willie Clayton ("Do You Feel Like Partyin'?"). Newcomer Tucka's "Back To The Sweet Shop" was a club-favorite for nearly the entire year. Billy Soul Bonds returned with "Cat Daddy". Ricky White delivered another banger in "Sexy". Nathaniel Kimble had his biggest hit since "Bagg It Up" with the Ricky White-written and produced "Bad Mama Jamma". But in 2014 it was a newbie who had the most popular song: J Wonn wins "Best Southern Soul/R&B Song" of the year with "I Got This Record". In second place came Jesse James' "I Lost My Baby On Facebook". Rounding out the nominees is Uvee Hayes ("Handy Man"), Louisiana Blues Brothas ("My Sidepiece"), Simeo ("How Come The Dog Ain't Barking?"), Grady Champion ("South Side"), Nellie Tiger Travis ("Cold Feet"), Floyd Taylor ("I Like The Way (Remix))", William Calhoun ("Room 229"), Bigg Robb ("Gittin' It In"), Larome Powers ("What's The Name Of That Thang").

Best Slow Jam

"Looking For A Lady" by TK Soul (Soulful)

T.K. Soul's "Looking For A Lady" was simply a top notch Soul ballad with a memorable hook ("I'm looking for a lady/Is it you?/Is It You?/Is it you?") but there were plenty others too. Second place finalist was "So Beautiful" from Sir Charles Jones, followed by Willie Clayton's "Girl I Want Your Body", Lenny Williams' "Didn't I", Gregg A. Smith's "Still Pretty", Avail Hollywood's "Rehab Ain't Working", J Wonn's "True Love", Earl Duke's "A Woman's Needs", Sir Jonathan Burton's "Second Time Around" and "Give Me Yo Luv" from Nathainel Kimble.

Best Dance Or Funk Song

"Bad Mama Jamma" by Nathaniel Kimble (Kimbarn)

Runner-up dance song "Back To The Sweet Shop" seemed like a sure thing when the voting began despite fierce competition from Sir Charles Jones/Willie Clayton ("Do You Feel Like Partyin'?"), Lil' Jimmie ("She Was Twerkin'"), Mel Waiters ("Let Me See You Cha Cha Cha"), Bigg Robb ("Gettin' It In"), Floyd Taylor ("I Like The Way Remix"), Sheba Potts-Wright ("I Came To Get Down") but Nathaniel Kimble wins his first Blues Critic Award for "Bad Mama Jamma".

Best Down Home Blues Song

"South Side" by Grady Champion (Waldoxy)

Grady Champion scoops up his 3rd career Blues Critic Award (2nd this year) with the lead track from this year's "Best Soul Blues Album" winner "Bootleg Whiskey". Other nominees were John Cummings, OB Buchana, Vivacious Val McNight, Lacee, Otis Clay with Johnny Rawls, Ricky White, Travis Haddix, Bobby Rush, Donnie Ray. Jaye Hammer and runner-up Billy Soul Bonds for "Cat Daddy".

Best Vocal Performance FEMALE

Lola "The Other Shoe" (Wilbe)

The ladies of Southern Soul were not as dominate as in 2014 when last year's winner, Nellie Tiger Travis, raked in 3 Blues Critic Awards for "Mr Sexy Man". This year she was nominated for "Cold Feet". Other nominees in "Best Vocal Performance: FEMALE" were Ms Jody (runner up) for "It's All About Me", Lacee for "Let The Juke Joint Jump", Stephanie Pickett for "What One Man Won't Do", Vivacious Val McKnight for "Whoo Doo Woman", Krishundra Echols for "My Man is A Cheater", Betty Padgett for "Pay Before You Lay", Uvee Hayes for "In The Mood", Sheba Potts-Wright for "I Came To Get Down". Candi Staton "It Ain't Easy To Love". Stephanie McDee for "Annie Mae's Cafe Swing Out Song" and winner Lola for "The Other Shoe"

Best Vocal Performance MALE

Willie Clayton on "Girl I Want Your Body" (Endzone)

Willie struck paydirt again in 2014 with another sexy jam in the "Boom Boom Boom" style he excels at. "Girl I Want Your Body" earned him his 7th Blues Critic Award since we began this Readers Poll ten years ago (2005). Other exceptional vocal performances that received nominations were David Brinston for "Diamond In The Rough", William Calhoun for "Room 229", Lenny Williams for "Didn't I", Vick Alllen for "True To Me", Nelson Curry for "Love On Me", Jaye Hammer for "Make Up Sex", Avail Hollywood for "Rehab Ain't Working", Sir Charles Jones for "So Beautiful", Roy C for "Got A Good Woman", J Wonn for "I Got This Record", Theo Huff for "It's A Good Thing I Met You" and runner-up TK Soul for "Looking For A Lady".

Best Performance By A Duo Or Group

"Do You Feel Like Partyin'?" by Sir Charles Jones & Willie Clayton (EndZone)

2014 again had many stellar collaborations from Donnie Ray with Jaye Hammer ("Same Woman"), Donnie Ray with Ms Jody ("I'm Gonna Leave My Love At Home"), Karen Wolfe with Nelson Curry ("Ain't Got Time For That"), The Louisiana Blues Brothas, which features Pokey and Tyree Neal, Bobby Rush with Dr John ("Another Murder In New Orleans") and more but two industry veterans (Sir Charles Jones with Willie Clayton) triumphed with the mid tempo dancer "Do You Feel Like Partyin'?"). Runner-up was Pokey, Tucka and Tyree Neal with "They Call Me Pokey" 

Best New Artist

Theo Huff

"Best New Artist" is always the most hotly-contested race annually with fans of each artist voting incessantly to help the artist get noticed. This year nominees were Runner Up Anita Love, JJ Thames, Raw Shaw, Solomon Thompson, Blind Ricky McCants, Big Ro Williams, Peaches Jones, Gentry Jones, Jeter Jones, Big Al, Lady Tee, Miss Rebekah and winner Theo Huff.

Best Record Producer(s) Of The Year


Ricky White

Sometimes it's hard to get all the credits needed to present an accurate list of nominees for producers being most of the music released in this genre is from independent artists or small labels. Voters may not be familiar with a producer's name even though their favorite music may have been produced by him/her. Because this category requires insider information we have decided that our staff would choose Best Record Producer like we do with Southern Soul Artist Of The Year. Many of the nominees seem to appear annually (Ricky White, Bigg Robb, Simeo, John Ward, etc..) and this year a couple up and coming producers really made their mark (Chris "Big Yayo" Mabry and Beat Flippa). After careful review it is clear to us that Ricky White should win for a second year in a row having produced more exceptional tracks and commercially successful hits that any other producer. These include "Dance/Funk Record Of The Year" (Nathaniel Kimble "Bad Mama Jamma"), "Best Slow Jam" (T.K. Soul "Looking For A Lady"), his own smash "Sexy" and notable cuts like William Calhoun's "Room 229", Betty Padgett's "Pay Before You Lay" and Stephanie Pickett's "I Don't Need No Man". Our second pick is  the overdue Simeo Overall who helmed Floyd Taylor's hits "Its On Me", "I Like The Way (Remix)", his own "How Come The Dog Ain't Barking" and Jerry L's remix to "When The Ladies Are Happy".

The BLUES CRITIC staff picks...



He may not have won any of the awards in which he was nominated (4 categories) but his success in pushing the "swing out style" of Southern Soul has been tremendous. He released two albums last year; "Groove City" and a "Greatest Hits" album that actually combined the best cuts from his first two, currently out-of-print albums "Forever King" and "Love Rehab". His "Love Rehab 2" also sold out. In fact as of writing ALL of Tucka's CDs except for "Groove City" are sold out and being re-pressed, which indicates how hot Tucka was in 2014. His live shows were heavily-attended and his album sales were booming. Southern Soul Artist Of The Year: Tucka