August 26, 2020

From the desk of Michael Freeman 

To the Leaders of The Blues Foundation’s Affiliated Blues Societies, 

Early this summer, a special Affiliate Relations Committee wrote expanded rules to allow you to hold virtual challenges to pick your bands and solo/duo artists for the International Blues Challenge in the instance that live judged events were not feasible in your communities. As we were considering how we might produce an IBC in the midst of a pandemic, we did not want to hold you back from participating in this important Blues Foundation event. 

Since then, we have heard back from many of you, and while some were moving forward with virtual challenges, even more of you told us that you, your membership, and the musicians in your community were not enthusiastic about a virtual option, and were holding off on producing your own challenges until you had more information about how The Blues Foundation might execute this coming year’s IBC. 

This past weekend, I presided over The Blues Foundation’s quarterly Board of Directors’ meeting, which included the International Blues Challenge as part of its agenda. Our board members had a lengthy discussion about all potential options for the IBC. After listening to your feedback to us and careful consideration of all options, including a virtual IBC, we universally agreed that this special and unique Blues Foundation program is meant to be experienced live and that it would not be safe or feasible to attempt to produce it this winter in the midst of a pandemic. In turn, our Board of Directors voted unanimously to cancel this year’s IBC and look ahead to the first quarter of 2022 when we can hopefully come together in person to celebrate the blues via this signature Blues Foundation event. We are sharing this information with you ahead of an eblast that will soon be distributed to the entire Blues Foundation community announcing this decision. 

Please allow me to thank you for your continued partnership with The Blues Foundation. This decision was not made lightly, and each of us is quite saddened that we find ourselves in this situation. With this decision made, we are now turning our attention towards creating virtual content, educational assets, and support for our affiliated network using the resources we would normally put into planning and executing the IBC. Part of these plans will include highlighting our affiliated blues societies and helping build your communities in the face of a pandemic. Thank you in advance for maintaining your memberships as we all work together creatively to expand awareness of the blues. 

While we will miss seeing you on Beale Street this January, I encourage you to look forward and save the dates for the 37th International Blues Challenge – February 1st through February 5th, 2022. 

Please stay safe and be well, 

Michael Freeman, Chairman 
Board of Directors, The Blues Foundation