The Blues Foundation’s 34th Annual International Blues Challenge (IBC) will be held in Memphis, Tenn. along historic Beale Street beginning Tuesday, January 16, 2018. The event will open with its International Showcase at the historic Clayborn Temple and will culminate with finals on January 20 at the Orpheum Theatre at the foot of Beale Street.
In addition to featuring these final rounds of the world’s largest and most prestigious blues music competition, this year’s IBC will offer a host of seminars, showcases, master classes, film, networking events, and receptions for blues societies, fans, and professionals.
In conjunction with the 2018 International Blues Challenge, the Blues Foundation will honor 12 individuals and organizations with its 2018 Keeping the Blues Alive Awards during a recognition luncheon Friday, January 19, 2018 beginning at 11 a.m. As determined by a select panel of blues professionals, the KBA Awards are presented annually, honoring those who make significant contributions to the genre.
Blues Foundation President and CEO Barbara Newman reports that “each year, our KBA Selection Committee does a wonderful job of pinpointing those individuals and organizations that are working behind the scenes to celebrate, promote, and bring greater awareness to the blues. Our 2018 Keeping the Blues Alive award recipients are all wonderful examples of blues flame keepers, each working in their own sphere of influence to move the genre forward while honoring its past.”
The 2018 Keeping the Blues Alive Awards recipients are:

  1. Gary and Gillian Atkinson
  2. Jonas Bernholm
  3. Blues Society of Omaha
  4. Byron Bay Blues Festival
  5. Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival
  6. Lucky Clark
  7. European Blues Union
  8. Tim Fik
  9. Brian Kelm
  10. Poor House Bistro
  11. Albertina Wassenhove
  12. Rueben Williams
Passes to the International Blues Challenge and the Keeping the Blues Alive luncheon are available online at or by calling (901) 527-2583. The International Blues Challengeis sponsored in significant part by ArtsMemphis, AutoZone, Beale Street Merchants Association, BMI, First Tennessee Foundation, Lee Oskar Harmonicas, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Tennessee Arts Commission.
Media sponsors include Beale Street CaravanBig City Rhythm and BluesBlues Festival Guide,Blues Matters!, Downtowner,  Living Blues, and Music on the Couch.
The Blues Foundation is Memphis-based, but world-renowned as THE organization whose mission is to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, the Blues Foundation has over 4,000 individual members with close to 200 affiliated blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals around the world. Its signature honors and events — the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame, International Blues Challenge, and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards — make it the international center of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance for musicians in need, while Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues Scholarships expose new generations to blues music. The recent opening of the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, in Memphis, Tenn., now adds the opportunity for music lovers of all ages to interact with the music and the history. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the global blues community with answers, information, and news.
Support the Blues Foundation by becoming an affiliated organization, corporate, or individual member, or simply by making a charitable donation.