The Rhythm & Blues Foundation, which ran out of cash and musicians to honor, has revived its Pioneer Awards, honoring Chubby Checker (“The Twist”), the recently rediscovered Bettye LaVette, Barbara Mason (“Yes, I’m Ready”), producer Thom Bell and the Delfonics (“Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”).
The Legacy Tribute Award will go to the late Otis Redding, while Motown founder Berry Gordy will accept the R&B Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
The 14th Pioneer Awards will be held June 29 in Philadelphia. It will be the first presentation in the foundation’s new home city, and all of the honorees have a connection to the City of Brotherly Love.
The Pioneer Awards were created to provide financial, medical and other kinds of assistance to struggling soul musicians. In 2003, after years of handing out $15,000 to individuals and $20,000 to groups, the org was handing empty envelopes to honorees.
Payments were later made after donations came in from stars such as Bruce Springsteen and a fundraising concert by Bonnie Raitt and others.