Kenny Wayne Shepherd Blues Award Nomination Revoked for Use of Confederate Flag, Guitarist Responds
Guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd's nomination for Best Blues/Rock Artist in the 2021 Blues Music Awards has been revoked over his use of a Confederate flag. The decision was made by the Blues Foundation.
Shepherd's nomination was rescinded due to “continuing revelations of representations of the Confederate flag on Shepherd’s ‘General Lee’ car, guitars and elsewhere," according to a March 18 statement on the Foundation's website.
In addition, the organization has asked the guitarist's father, Ken Shepherd, to resign from its board of directors, as he's a member.
The Foundation also posted a statement on March 15 regarding racism.
“The Blues Foundation unequivocally condemns all forms and expressions of racism, including all symbols associated with white supremacy and the degradation of people of color. We will hold ourselves as well as all blues musicians, fans, organizations, and members of the music industry accountable for racist actions and encourage concrete commitments to acknowledge and redress the resulting pain.
The Blues Foundation acknowledges that racism contributed to the historic oppression and exploitation of African American blues musicians and recognizes that hateful acts of racism continue to afflict the blues community today. We consistently strive to identify, discuss, and challenge issues of race within the blues community. We commit to the ongoing development and implementation of strategies to dismantle structural and systemic racism within our programs, special events and organization. We hereby adopt an action plan to purposefully address racism and contribute to a more equitable blues community."
The guitarist's name has already been removed as a nominee for the category at the awards ceremony. He responded with a statement on his website and socials.
“I have just learned that the executive committee of the Blues Foundation board of directors has made the decision to rescind my nomination for the 2021 blues rock artist of the year award.
We have been told this decision has been made because, in recent days, concerns have been raised regarding one of the cars in my muscle car collection. The car was built 17 years ago as a replica and homage to the iconic car in the television series, 'The Dukes of Hazzard.' That CBS show was one of the highest rated and most popular programs of its era and like millions of others, I watched it every week. In the show, one of the central ‘characters’ was a muscle car which displayed a confederate flag on its roof. 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 apologize 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.”
The Blues Music Awards will take place on Sunday, June 6 at 5pm ET. The virtual ceremony will be streamable on the Blues Foundation's YouTube channel and Facebook page.