Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Blues Music Award nomination rescinded over confederate flag imagery

Kenny Wayne Shepherd
(Image credit: C Brandon/Redferns)

Kenny Wayne Shepherd has had his nomination at the 2021 Blues Music Awards rescinded after members of the Blues Foundation – the organization that sponsors the event – objected to his use of confederate flag imagery.

“The decision to rescind the nomination was based upon continuing revelations of representations of the Confederate flag on Shepherd’s 'General Lee' car, guitars and elsewhere,” the Blues Foundation explains in a statement on its website.

The organization has also requested that Shepherd's father, Ken Shepherd, step down as a member of its board of directors.

In its statement, the Blues Foundation recites a section from its Statement Against Racism – posted March 15 – which reads: 

“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.”

In a response posted to Facebook on March 19, Shepherd shares an explanation for his 'General Lee' car.

“The car was built 17 years ago as a replica and homage to the iconic car in the television series, The Dukes of Hazzard,” it reads.

“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.”

He continues: “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.”

The Blues Music Awards 2021 is set to be livestreamed on the Blues Foundation's Facebook page and YouTube channel on June 6. The revocation of Shepherd's nomination leaves Tinsley Ellis, Reverend Peyton, Ana Popovic and Mike Zito in the running for the category of Best Blues/Rock Artist.

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.