Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s Blues Award Nomination Rescinded Because Of Confederate Flag Use
Kenny Wayne Shepherd has had his 2021 Blues Music Award nomination for Best Blues/Rock Artist rescinded by the Blues Foundation because of Confederate flag imagery that Shepherd has used in the past. In a statement, the Foundation said that it made the decision based on “continuing revelations of representations of the Confederate flag on Shepherd’s ‘General Lee’ car, guitars and elsewhere,” as Billboard reports.
A few days ago, the Foundation posted a statement against racism following public criticism of Shepherd and his use of the Confederate flag on a muscle car he owned that had the flag painted on it, purported to be an homage to the TV show The Dukes Of Hazzard. They did not mention Shepherd by name in that statement, but did write:
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.
They followed it up today by removing Shepherd’s name from contention for the award show’s list of nominees. Shepherd has responded with his own statement:
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.
As Variety points out, while Shepherd says he retired the car years ago, members of the blues community say he posted photos and videos of the car on social media recently. Shepherd has been questioned about the car before, including in a 2015 Wall Street Journal profile, to which he responded: “I get thumbs up from everybody, regardless of race. The African-American community created the music that I play; racism is not a part of my DNA.”
The Blues Foundation also asked Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s father Ken Shepherd to step down from his position as a member of its Board Of Directors.