Guitarist, singer, harmonica player and songwriter Grady Champion released two very impressive recordings in 1999 and 2001 for Shanachie Records. Both his debut, Payin’ For My Sins and 2 Days Short of a Week put Champion on the national touring blues map and helped launch his career beyond the boundaries of his native Jackson, Mississippi. His latest release, Back In Mississippi, Live at the 930 Blues Cafe, released internationally on the Earwig Music Company label, has received widespread radio airplay and many enthusiastic reviews.
The youngest of his father’s 28 children, Champion grew up in rural Canton, outside Jackson. Raised on a farm, he accepted hard work as a way of life. Like so many other blues performers, he joined his church choir as an eight-year-old and began singing gospel. Then at 15, his mother moved the family to Miami, Florida, where he attended high school for a year before heading back home to Mississippi for his senior year.
After graduation, he returned to Florida, where he tried boxing, being a radio DJ and several other occupations before he settled into his career as a performer. He recorded and released his own album, “oin’ Back Home, in 1998 and began drawing ever-larger crowds to Florida blues clubs before catching the attention of Shanachie Records executives, who signed him.
Champion has not been afraid to speak his mind on his two releases for Shanachie, and he writes from personal experience with social commentary songs like “Policeman Blues” [about racial profiling] and “Children of the Corn,” a song about the rising tide of youth violence.
From the inception of his relatively recent career as a blues performer, Champion has sought to tackle new lyrical themes with his original compositions. As a triple threat harmonica player, guitarist and songwriter, he accomplishes that in grand style on both “Payin’ For My Sins” and “2 Days Short of a Week.” Champion, along with young innovators like Shemekia Copeland and Shawn Pittman, is one of the brighter beacons when we talk about the future of blues music.
In January 2010, Grady won the 26th International Blues Challenge beating out 110 bands from around the world. As a result, Grady has been booked on high profile festivals and events, including the Chicago Blues Festival, and the Ultimate Rhythm & Blues Cruise.