Bobby “Blue” Bland

Blues singer, Memphis

Governor’s Distinguished Artist Award (2013)


A lifelong Memphian, Bobby “Blue” Bland (1930-2013) played a principal role in the birth and popularity of the modern soul-blues style.  Born and raised on gospel singing in the outlying Rosemark community, he moved into the city in 1948, where he first made his mark on Beale Street along with the likes of B.B. King and other emerging greats of his generation.  Among them, he was the only one to distinguish himself solely as a singer and not also an instrumentalist.  He made his first hit recording in 1957, and that was followed by many more successes in the expanding R&B market.  While some varieties of the blues have gained more diverse listenership since then, Bland’s popularity has derived almost exclusively from African-American audiences over the years.  Known for his signature smooth, stylized, and emotional delivery, he kept a busy touring and recording schedule for over 50 years, and won numerous honors including Handy awards, membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Grammy Lifetime
Achievement Award.


To see Bobby Bland’s profile in the 2013 Governor’s Arts Awards program, click here.   [link to “Bland 2013 GAA text”]


For more about Bobby Bland, go to:

Youtube addr for 2013 Gov Awd video profile

For further reading, see:


Bogdanov, Vladimir, Chris Woodstra, and Stephen Thomas Erlewine, eds.  All Music Guide to the Blues (San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2003), pp. 46-7.
Farley, Charles.  Soul of the Man: Bobby “Blue” Bland (Oxford, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2011).
Herzhaft, Gerard.  Encyclopedia of the Blues. (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1992), pp. 23-4.
Whiteis, David.  Southern Soul-Blues (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013), pp. 251-2.


See for a listing of Bland’s recordings.