Just in time for its 30th anniversary in 2014, the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival has been honored with a Keeping the Blues Alive Award from The Blues Foundation of Memphis, TN, the world-renown organization dedicated to preserving our blues music history, celebrating recording and performance excellence, supporting blues education and ensuring the future of this uniquely American art form. The coveted award, in the U.S. Festival category, is the equivalent of lifetime achievement recognition.
The Blues Foundation notes that the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival has become "one of the longest running, most prestigious blues festivals in the world. Held on the shores of the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa, this event features music on two outdoor stages and educational presentations. Four different times, the festival has moved due to river flooding, but each time, festival organizers have been up to the task.
Beginning in 1995 with Honeyboy Edwards, the festival inaugurated its RiverRoad Award to honor the true legends of the blues. Thus far, 36 men and women have been so honored." The Festival is also the only major blues festival in the nation to be produced by a non-profit, all-volunteer organization — the Mississippi Valley Blues Society.
Each year, The Blues Foundation presents the Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) Awards to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the Blues world. Unlike the Blues Music Awards, which recognize the past year's best in recordings and performance voted on by thousands of The Blues Foundation's members, the KBAs are awarded to non-performers strictly on the basis of merit by a select panel of blues professionals. Affiliated organizations, past KBA recipients and members of The Blues Foundation's Board of Directors are eligible to submit nominations.
The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival was nominated for the KBA award by musician Michael "Hawkeye" Herman, himself a KBA recipient for Education in 1998 and a former member of the board of directors of the Blues Foundation. In his nomination, Hawkeye noted that "The 2014 KBA Award would be a most auspicious way of honoring this event's 30 years of hard work and dedication to 'Keeping the Blues Alive' in both spirit and action."