B.B. King wins top award for fifth straight year

Friday, May 23rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ B.B. King won Entertainer of the Year for the fifth consecutive year at the 24th annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards.

The awards show, held Thursday at the Orpheum Theatre, honored newcomers and legends alike. Shemekia Copeland, daughter of the late Johnny Copeland, won three awards, including Blues Album of the Year for her Dr. John-produced, ``Talking To Strangers.''

It marks the second time that Copeland has won the category _ she did the same in 2001 for her sophomore effort, ``Wicked.''

Copeland also won awards for Contemporary Female Artist and Contemporary Blues Album for ``Talking to Strangers.''

Memphis-born Koko Taylor took home her 23rd trophy, winning Traditional Female Artist and retaining her title as all-time Handy champ. The award succeeds the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award she received in New York earlier this year.

In the night's most diverse category, sacred steel virtuoso Robert Randolph beat out Yugoslavian blues diva Ana Popovic, hill-boogie one-man-band Richard Johnston, country-blues artist Precious Bryant and former Jimmy Rogers guitarist Nick Moss to win Best New Artist Debut for his album, ``Live at the Wetlands.''

Magic Slim & the Teardrops were named Blues Band of the Year, while Charlie Musselwhite won Contemporary Male Artist. Musselwhite also won for Blues Instrumentalist-Harmonica.

One-time Sun recording artist and Muddy Waters sideman, pianist Pinetop Perkins, won for keyboards and also was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, established by Handys producer the Blues Foundation.

The Memphis-based Blues Foundation is a nonprofit umbrella organization for more than 100 blues societies internationally. The 25-category Handy ballot is chosen by an international panel of blues industry professionals, then voted on by more than 30,000 blues fans.