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:

Gary and Gillian Atkinson

Jonas Bernholm


Blues Society of Omaha

Byron Bay Blues Festival

Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival

Lucky Clark

European Blues Union

Tim Fik

Brian Kelm

Poor House Bistro

Albertina Wassenhove

Rueben Williams

The International Blues Challenge is 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 Caravan, Big City Rhythm And Blues, Blues Festival Guide, Blues Matters!, Downtowner, Living Blues, and Music On The Couch.

Passes to the International Blues Challenge and the Keeping the Blues Alive luncheon are available online at or by calling (901) 527-2583.

Find the biographies of KBA recipients.