Guitarist and Singer-Songwriter Poughkeepsie, NY
2015 USA Fellow
This award is generously supported by Steven H. and Nancy K. Oliver. _
Joe Louis Walker, a Blues Hall of Fame inductee and four-time Blues Music Award winner, is one of the most exciting and innovative artists of our time. A true powerhouse guitar virtuoso, unique singer and prolific songwriter, he has toured extensively throughout his career, performed at the world’s most renowned music festivals, and earned a legion of dedicated fans.Walker’s 1986 debut album Cold Is the Night announced his arrival. Walker is the total package, as tremendously assured on a down-in-the-alley acoustic solo outing as he is performing a thoroughly modern R&B-laced number.Born on December 25, 1949 in San Francisco, Walker took up the guitar at an early age and quickly became a known quantity on the Bay Area music scene. While rooming with Mike Bloomfield, he was introduced to Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead.Walker’s acclaimed recordings in the 1990s merged many of his gospel, jazz, soul, funk and rock influences with his trademark blues sensibilities. These releases feature Walker’s collaborations with a diverse group of first-rate artists including Branford Marsalis, James Cotton, Tower of Power, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Ike Turner and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown.Walker’s debut on Alligator Records with 2012’s Hellfire, which Billboard calls “a heavenly showcase for Walker’s virtues”. In 2014 he returned with Hornet’s Nest, which the Chicago Sun-Times describes as “proudly modern, designed to rest comfortably alongside anything from the Black Keys or Jack White.”Walker’s discography includes 25 solo albums, three live DVDs, and countless compilations and guest appearances. NPR Music calls Walker “a legendary boundary-pushing icon of modern blues,” and he is already being referred to within the blues world as a living legend.