RIAA, A2IM And Exceleration Music-Hosted Event
Featured Iconic Blues Artist Shemekia Copeland
Representative Jan Schakowsky And Members Of The Illinois Delegation Honored Cultural Impact Of The Blues
Alligator Records founder and president Bruce Iglauer was feted last night (11/16) in the nation’s capital by Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM).
RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier, A2IM president and CEO Dr. Richard James Burgess and founding partner of Exceleration Music, Glen Barros (with whom Alligator Records joined forces in 2021), also honored the label chief in their remarks. The private event acknowledging Alligator’s role in the cultural impact of Blues music was hosted at the RIAA’s state-of-the-art headquarters in partnership with A2IM and Exceleration Music, who welcomed the music community, members of Congress and staff.
Longtime Alligator Records artist Shemekia Copeland, whom The Washington Post calls “the greatest blues singer of her generation,” performed a stirring set for the exclusive list of invitees, including material from her powerful new album, Done Come Too Far.
Iglauer is thrilled to be recognized, saying, “I’m incredibly honored that the blues and Alligator Records have been lauded by the wonderful Jan Schakowsky. This official recognition is not only for me as the label’s founder, but it’s also for all the dedicated staff, some of whom have worked at Alligator for over four decades, who are committed to supporting our artists and our music. Above all, this statement honors Chicago blues and artists like Hound Dog Taylor, Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, Fenton Robinson, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Johnson, James Cotton, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Charlie Musselwhite, Carey and Lurrie Bell, Billy Branch, Luther Allison, Corky Siegel, Shemekia Copeland, The Cash Box Kings, Nick Moss and Toronzo Cannon — who have cut timeless albums for Alligator. Those albums carry on the glorious Chicago blues tradition, keeping this deeply rooted music as charismatic and soul-healing for future generations as it has been for me.”
Last December, Congresswoman Schakowsky entered a commemorative statement, entitled Honoring 50 Years Of Alligator Records, into the Congressional Record with the support of Illinois Congresspeople Chuy Garcia, Sean Casten, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Adam Kinzinger, Robin Kelly, Brad Schneider, Cheri Bustos, Bobby Rush, Marie Newman, Bill Foster, Lauren Underwood and Mike Quigley.
Alligator Records, like the blues itself, continues to break new ground while staying true to its roots. Rolling Stone says, “Prestigious, scrappy independent Alligator Records has reached dizzying heights in celebrating the blues.” It began in 1971, when 23-year-old blues fan Bruce Iglauer spent his savings to record and release a record by his favorite Chicago blues band, Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers. He created Alligator Records to release that one LP. Today, Alligator boasts a catalog of over 350 titles, many of which are renowned, award-winning, time-tested classics of the genre. Career-defining albums from legendary artists including Hound Dog Taylor, Koko Taylor, Son Seals, Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, Professor Longhair, Lonnie Brooks, Luther Allison and Michael “Iron Man” Burks share the catalog with releases from current blues and roots icons Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Billy Boy Arnold and Mavis Staples.
Records from today’s world-renowned stars like Shemekia Copeland, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, Marcia Ball, Billy Branch, Tinsley Ellis, Carolyn Wonderland, Tommy Castro & The Painkillers, Curtis Salgado, Roomful Of Blues and The Cash Box Kings, as well as albums from trailblazing newer voices including Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Nick Moss, Toronzo Cannon and Selwyn Birchwood, clearly showcase Alligator’s wide-ranging, forward-looking vision.
In 2021, Alligator joined forces with Exceleration Music, a partnership of global music industry leaders who invest in the future of independent labels and artists. On June 18, 2021, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared “Alligator Records Day” throughout the city via official proclamation. This is the same day Alligator Records–50 Years Of Genuine Houserockin’ Music (a 2-LP or 3-CD set) was released. On September 18, 2021, the Mayor declared “Bruce Iglauer Day” across the city in honor of Alligator’s founder and president. The New York Times says, “Alligator is the leading record label for the blues, and has succeeded where the giants have failed.” The Chicago Tribune declares, “Alligator Records stands as one of the most enduring and revered independent blues labels in the world, its catalog holding inextinguishable works.”
Shemekia Copeland is the female blues artist of her generation, blessed with a cathartic voice and larger-than-life presence. Shemekia has just released her latest album, Done Come Too Far, to overwhelmingly positive reviews. NPR Music calls it “a profound and truly powerful record,” saying, “Shemekia Copeland is the greatest living blues singer…totally true to the blues and powerfully contemporary.” Shemekia joined the Alligator family when she was only 18. Since then, she’s made ten sensational albums, been nominated for three Grammy Awards, won over a dozen Blues Music Awards, and numerous Living Blues and DownBeat Critics’ Awards. She has appeared at the White House, opened for the Rolling Stones, and toured worldwide. Copeland’s friend Mavis Staples says, “I am so happy Shemekia is delivering these songs that the world needs to hear. Her voice is strong and soulful and her message comes from her heart.”