IBC finalist (photo by Chick Cavallero, Colorado Blues Society)

The Mile High Blues Society Board of Directors has decided that MHBS will NOT be holding an International Blues Challenge this year. Based on the current situation with the Covid-19 Pandemic as well as several venues closing and the overall ‘state of the state’ it was determined that it was not feasible for MHBS to hold the event this year.

The Colorado Blues Society IS working to determine exactly how and if they can proceed with facilitation of an IBC. As they determine what they can and cannot do we will share that information.

Here is the notice from the Blues Foundation regarding IBC 2021:

The Blues Foundation recently announced expanded rules to allow for socially distanced and/or virtual challenges so that all of our Affiliated Blues Societies can move forward to select their bands and solo/duo musicians for 2021. Musicians who are interested in competing for a spot in the 2021 IBC should reach out directly to their local blues society leadership.

The Blues Foundation’s Board of Directors will be assessing the COVID-19 situation over the summer and into the early fall to determine how we will best be able to hold an International Blues Challenge this January.

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Greetings from Barbara Newman, CEO, Blues Foundation, Memphis, TN.

Dear Blues Friends,

We are living in unprecedented times, and as I talk to other music organization leaders, I find that we are all being impacted in similar ways by the limitations required for our society to heal. I recognize that many of you (myself included) are pained by the lack of access to live music, which historically has offered healing for our souls. Our blues musician friends are unable to tour, and many are holding back the release of new recorded music until they can once again get on the road to support their recordings. Many are steering clear of studios and holding off on producing new content until things feel safer. My hope is that, in the meantime, the creative juices are flowing, and once we get on the other side of this thing, there will be wonderful new blues music for all of us to embrace. Please hold tight, support each other, be kind, and wear your masks. We’ll get through this together.

The Blues Foundation continues to track the status of COVID-19 in our home community of Memphis and beyond. We have yet to reopen the Blues Hall of Fame because of our primary concern for the well-being of our staff, our visitors, and our community. With numbers of cases and the positivity rates rising, we just do not feel it is worth the risk. As we assess the ability to reopen, we are prioritizing public health and safety. In the meantime, we are watching the trends, listening to the CDC and Health Department, and adjusting our reopening plan to meet the highest standards of care. We will keep you posted on dates and hours once we feel it is safe to reopen.

We recognize that our Affiliated Blues Societies are hard-pressed to produce live judged events in order to choose their 2021 International Blue Challenge representatives. Most communities do not allow large gatherings, so we have written expanded guidelines for this year to allow virtual challenges for the purpose of naming 2021 IBC Bands and Solo/Duo artists. Please read on in this Newsletter for those details. We are already hearing from many of our blues societies that they are now ramping up for virtual challenges this year. Our goal is for as many blues societies as can to move forward to choose their challengers over the next 4 months and ahead of IBC registration. We do not yet know if we will be able to hold a live International Blues Challenge or have to pivot to our own virtual edition, but whatever the ultimate decision, we want our Affiliates to be able to forge ahead with their own challenges so they can be prepared to participate in whatever format we choose for this January.

Fortunately, the Blues Music Awards submission process has been able to continue without issue. If you are releasing blues music between November 1, 2019 and October 31, 2020, please look for the link below to submit for BMA consideration. And if you need assistance or have any questions, our staff is available to respond.

Finally, please allow me to once again put out a plea to support The Blues Foundation’s COVID-19 Blues Musician Emergency Relief Fund. To date, we have assisted close to 200 full-time blues musicians living in North America with financial support for basic living necessities such as housing and utilities. As long as we can count on the generosity of our blues community and beyond, we will continue to manage this process to help keep blues musicians with roofs over their heads, lights turned on, and connection to the outside world intact. It’s going to be a while before they can return to touring, and they will continue to need our help. Thanks to each and every one of you who has been able to step up to assist. The worldwide blues village has been wonderful in providing us with the necessary resources to do this important work.

I close by sending hugs and good mojo for each of you to remain safe and healthy.

Best regards,
Barbara. – IBC

MHBS Mission Statement:
To nurture appreciation for blues music through blues performances, youth blues education, as well as sponsoring local and international blues challenge competitions.

Mile High Blues Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. You donations are tax deductible, per the IRS rules.


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