Bio

If you want to experience the "Real Deal", take time out to find Kenny Neal. One of the strongest modern proponents of Baton Rouge swamp blues, Kenny Neal is a second-generation southern Louisiana bluesman who is cognizant of the region's venerable blues tradition and imaginative enough to steer it in fresh directions. Neal was born on October 14, 1957 in New Orleans. His dad, harpist Raful Neal, was a Baton Rouge blues mainstay whose pals included Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo (the latter gave three-year-old Kenny his first harmonica).

At age 13, Neal was playing in his father's band, and at 17, landed a job playing bass for Buddy Guy. The guitarist recruited some of his talented siblings to form the Neal Brothers Blues Band up in Toronto (brother Noel later played bass behind James Cotton; five other Neal brothers also play in various bands) before returning stateside. In 1987, Kenny Neal cut his debut LP for Florida producer Bob Greenlee, an updated swamp feast initially released by Kingsnake Records as Bio on the Bayou. The following year, Alligator Records signed Neal and reissued the debut under the title Big News from Baton Rouge!! Young Neal was on his way. Neal's sizzling guitar work, sturdy harp, and gravelly, aged-beyond-his-years vocals served him well, and he cut four albums for Alligator Records between 1989 and 1994. An acclaimed 1991 stint on Broadway in a production of Mule Bone found him performing acoustic versions of Langston Hughes' poetry set to music by Taj Mahal.

Kenny's 2016 release, Bloodline, was nomimated for a 2017 Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album and also won two 2017 BMAs (Blues Music Awards); one for Best Contemporary Blues Album and the other for Best Contemporary Male Blues Artist. Kenny Neal, a true living blues Legend is THE REAL DEAL and more poised than ever to deliver the blues like no one else can!

In the last few years, Kenny has relocated back to Baton Rouge and has spent much of his time around home with Family, writing songs, riding horses and working on his collection of vintage cars, but has come to realize that life on the road is his life. You can bet on seeing Kenny Neal and his band of Brothers (Darnell Neal on Bass and Fred Neal on Keys) back on the road and better than ever in 2017. Longtime drummer and friend, Bryan Morris has been with the band since 2005. In 2017, Kenny enhanced the band with a horn section.

In 2015, Neal released his first holiday-themed album, I'll Be Home for Christmas. It was his first album for Cleopatra Records, which also issued his critically acclaimed release, Bloodline in 2016.

In 1998, Neal moved from Alligator to the blues division of the jazz-based Telarc Records, releasing three albums for the label: Blues Fallin' Down Like Rain (1998), What You Got (2000), and One Step Closer (2001). In the new millennium, Neal recorded sets for a variety of independent labels, including Easy Meeting (a 2003 collaboration with Billy Branch), Double Take (2004, a one-shot return to Alligator), and A Tribute to Slim Harpo and Raful Neal (released in 2005 for True Life Entertainment). Three years later, Neal hooked up with Blind Pig Records and released Let Life Flow in 2008, once again incorporating his gritty Louisiana roots with a sophisticated Chicago/Memphis soul approach. A second Blind Pig release, Hooked on Your Love, appeared two years later in 2010.

Awards

  • 2017 Grammy Nomination Best Contemporary Blues Album (Bloodline)
  • 2017 Blues Music Awards—Contemporary Blues Male Artist (Bloodline)
  • 2017 Blues Music Awards— Contemporary Blues Album (Bloodline)
  • 2017 San Francisco Housing Development Corporation(SFHDC)- Celebrating 29 Years of Building Homes & Hope - Arts and Cultural Icon Award
  • 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Foundation— Red Stick Blues Award
  • 2016 Pennsylvania Blues Festival— Life Time Achievement Award
  • 2015 Jus' Blues Awards 'Bobby Rush Blues Entertainer Award
  • 2013 Baton Rouge Blues Foundation - Blues Honoree
  • 2013 Music Ambassador Award 'Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne
  • 2011 Inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame
  • 2011 Jus' Blues Music Foundation Contemporary/Traditional Blues Song Of The Year Hooked on Your Love
  • 2011 Critic's Poll Living Blues Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album of the Year.
  • 2009 Monterey Bay Blues (M.O.B.B.A.Y.) Artist of the Year
  • 2009 BMA (Blues Music Award) Song of the Year, "Let Life Flow"
  • 2009 West Coast Blues Hall of Fame Awards for Blues CD of the Year "Let Life Flow" and "Blues Band of the Year"
  • 2009 Blueswax Album of the Year "Let Life Flow"
  • 2009 Jus' Blues Awards Traditional Blues Song - Male - "Let Life Flow"
  • 2009 Grammy entries for Grammy Nominations in 4 catagories
  • 2008 Blues Critic Awards 2008 Readers Poll, Kenny won Blues Album of the Year "Let Life Flow" and also Contemporary Blues "Artist of the Year"
  • 2008 Jus' Blues Awards "Junior Wells Harp Award"
  • Hometown Video Awards 2008 Winner, Entertainment Talk Show "NEAL'S PLACE"
  • W.A.V.E. Award 2007, Talk Show-Entertainment/Pro, "NEAL'S PLACE"
  • 2005 W.C. Handy Blues Awards - Acoustic Blues Album - "Double Take"
  • 2005 Official Statement to Kenny Neal, by the Governor of LA.
  • 2003 Slim Harpo Award in Baton Rouge
  • 1999 Grammy Nomination for Tribute to Howlin' Wolf "Best Traditional Blues Album"
  • 1994 Theatre World Award "Outstanding New Talent" on Broadway
  • 1993 Washington, D.C., USIA Certificate of Appreciation for representing the U.S. with Kenny Neal's Blues Band for tour in Africa
  • 1989 Big Bill Broonzy Award in Paris
  • 1989 JD Miller Award "Outstanding Performance"

Kenny Neal