Kenny Wayne Shepherd has been stripped of his nomination at the 2021 Blues Music Awards after members of the sponsoring Blues Foundation organisation took issue with his use of Confederate flag imagery.
A statement from the Blues Foundation explained that the decision to rescind Shepherd’s nomination for the Best Blues/Rock Artist award was based on “continuing revelations of representations of the Confederate flag on Shepherd’s ‘General Lee’ car, guitars and elsewhere”.
The organisation has also asked the guitarist’s father, Ken Shepherd, to step down as a member of its board of directors.
The revocation of Shepherd’s nomination coincides with the Blues Foundation’s Statement Against Racism, which was posted to its website on Monday (15 March).
“The Blues Foundation unequivocally condemns all forms and expressions of racism, including all symbols associated with white supremacy and the degradation of people of colour,” it wrote. “We will hold ourselves as well as all blues musicians, fans, organisations, and members of the music industry accountable for racist actions and encourage concrete commitments to acknowledge and redress the resulting pain.”
Earlier today (19 March), Kenny Wayne Shepherd took to Facebook to offer an explanation for his ‘General Lee’ car, claiming that he had the Confederate flag permanently covered some time ago.
“The car was built 17 years ago as a replica and homage to the iconic car in the television series, The Dukes of Hazzard,” he wrote. “Years ago I put that car in permanent storage and some time ago, I made the decision to permanently cover the flag on my car because it was completely against my values and offensive to the African-American community which created the music I love so much and I apologise to anyone that I have unintentionally hurt because of it.”
“I want to make something very clear and unequivocal; I condemn and stand in complete opposition to all forms of racism and oppression and always have.”
With Shepherd out of the running, Tinsley Ellis, Reverend Peyton, Ana Popovic and Mike Zito remain in contention for the Best Blues/Rock Artist award.
The Blues Music Awards 2021 will be livestreamed on the Blues Foundation’s Facebook and YouTube channels on 6 June.
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