Harmonica star Grady Champion debuts at Bluesdays

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Grady Champion hopped offstage to join the dancing crowd at last year’s Genoa Blues Festival
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

As the youngest of 28 brothers and sisters, Grady Champion knows how to be competitive.

Champion became a successful and popular blues artist after learning about the music business. He co-wrote a song that received a Grammy Award, won the 2010 International Blues Challenge, has a record label and is about to release his 10th album.

Champion will perform Tuesday, July 11, for the first time at Bluesdays, the free weekly show from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at The Village at Squaw Valley

At the age of 18, Champion took a job at a record label and six years later went to work with FJH Music.

“Knowing the business has helped me tremendously,” Champion said. “I learned a lot about contracts and a lot about the industry. I learned to take care of your business, be on time, about giving a great show and counting your money at the end of the night.”

After starting as a rapper, he discovered and fell in love with blues, which you might expect from someone from Canton, Mississippi. He was inspired by Rice Miller, better known as Sonny Boy Williamson II.

“To me there was only one Sonny Boy and that was Rice Miller — that’s who I studied,” Champion said. “That’s my favorite harmonica player.”

Champion’s label is DeChamp Records, which includes Blues artists JJ Thames and Eddie Cotton Jr., who kept the crown in Mississippi by winning the International Blues Challenge in 2015.

Cotton plays rhythm and lead guitar on Champion’s album “One of a Kind,” which was be released last September. Thames, Elvin Bishop and Theodis Ealey also appear on the album.

“It’s a blessing to do something you love and I am really excited about the project that I am working on,” he said.

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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