Undisputed champ: Grady Champion plays Genoa Blues

Grady Champion
Grady Champion will appear at the July 30 Genoa Blues Festival.
Photo credit: GoErie.com

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 at the July 30 Genoa Blues Festival, along with Kenny Neal and the Family Band and the Buddy Emmer Blues Band.

“Get ready to have a great time because we’re gonna have a ball,” Champion said. “We’re going to bring the heat. It’s going to be one enjoyable blues festival.”

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.”

When he won the IBC, Champion became a household name for blues fans. By winning the Blues Foundation’s annual event in Memphis, Champion was awarded a spot on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise. Champion and South Lake Tahoe resident Brad Andres met and became friends during the cruise. Andres, who has hosted Champion at private house parties, will now put on his first public event, which will include a variety of great food options.

“Brad sure knows how to cook,” said Champion, who shares a common goal with Andres: Make the Genoa Blues Festival an annual event.

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 IBC in 2015.

Cotton plays rhythm and lead guitar on Champion’s album “One of a Kind,” which will be released Sept. 16. 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.

Gates open at Saturday, July 30, at 2 p.m. and the music will last until about 7. General Admission tickets are $32.50. VIP tickets, which include food and special seats, are $48.50. All tickets are available at Eventbrite.com.

The Genoa Blues Festival is a “boutique blues event,” meaning there are a limited number of tickets. This will be an intimate setting between musicians and audience. VIP tickets get special seating and other benefits, while General Admission can spread out on blankets and folding chairs on Mormon Station’s 3½-acre Historic Station State Park, 2295 Main St, Genoa, Nevada 89411.

For tickets, click HERE

Related story: Kenny Neal to play Genoa Blues Festival. LINK

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Grady Champion, left, was in Eddie Cotton Jr.’s corner when Cotton captured the 2015 International Blues Challenge title in Memphis.
Tim Parsons/ Tahoe Onstage

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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