BILLY BRANCH, EMMY AWARD WINNER
3 TIME GRAMMY NOMINEE
RETIRED 2 TERM GRAMMY GOVERNOR
2020 BLUES FOUNDATION HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
ALLIGATOR RECORDS RECORDING ARTIST
Billy Branch was discovered by Willie Dixon, the "father of modern Chicago Blues," while Billy was still in college. Willie encouraged Billy to finish his college education, which he did, but instead of going to law school after receiving his political science degree,
Billy began touring with the Willie Dixon Chicago All-Stars. This gave Billy the unique opportunity to travel and work as an under study for the legendary Carey Bell who was planning to leave the All-Stars and form his own band. When Carey took his leave, the young Billy Branch took his place, touring with Willie Dixon for 6 years.
Since those early days, Billy has played on over 300 different recordings including 15 albums under his own name. Billy has recorded with Willie Dixon, Johnny Winter, Keb' Mo, Lou Rawls, Koko Taylor, Eddy Clearwater, Honeyboy Edwards, Syl Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Ronnie Baker Brooks, John Primer, and Taj Mahal, just to name a few. Billy has three Grammy Award nominations, having lost one nomination to BB King and Eric Clapton! He served two consecutive terms on the NARAS Grammy Board of Governors and founded the First Grammy Blues Committee. Because Billy's Blues credentials include dozens of years spent working side-by-side with many of Chicago's illustrious Blues musicians of years gone by, he is considered an ambassador of Chicago Blues. In that role he has written the forwards to three books, given numerous U.S. State Department cultural exchanges in other countries, presented keynote speeches (one was for the Obama Foundation), and presented to the leaders of Turkey's Parliament, teaching them to play harmonica! Billy also does commercial voice-overs and has acted in two major big screen movies.
Billy's new release on Alligator Records, ROOTS AND BRANCHES, THE SONGS OF LITTLE WALTER honors the iconic Little Walter, one of the principal architects of the Chicago Blues sound. His band takes Little Walter's classics and embed their unique creative synergy This highly anticipated album includes Little Walter's daughter, Marion Diaz, sharing a few anecdotes of life with her legendary father.
Billy Branch and The Sons of Blues (SOBs) celebrated their fortieth anniversary by headlining the 2017 Chicago Blues Festival. They kept tens of thousands of Blues fans thoroughly engaged for over two hours. It's hard to imagine that the SOBs very first gig was in Germany at the 1977 Berlin Jazz Festival. Over the many years since, Billy Branch and The Sons of Blues have consistently delivered the Blues to fans around the world. During their six week tour of Turkey, thousands of fans showed up every night of the week to experience authentic Chicago Blues. The Sons of Blues have made over 250 international tours, sharing the cultural legacy of the Blues around the world.
Billy Branch is a Blues education pioneer. He was one of the first artists to develop a Blues in Schools curriculum. Since 1978, in addition to recording and performing, he has taught hundreds of thousands of children around the world. His internationally recognized Blues in Schools Program is committed to teaching students of all ages about the Blues as the roots of America's music. His curriculum and instruction strategies open his students eyes to music history, music theory. Students also learn music skills that reinforce music as a positive creative outlet which inspires students to embrace music as a viable creative expression. He has shared his interdisciplinary program in Europe, South America, Australia, Asia, Central America and Mexico where he taught his two week program in Spanish. In addition, Billy has taught in the Grammy Museum Music Revolution Project and lectured at the University of Chicago and other institutions of higher learning. His university level lectures are some of the most popular and well attended classes. Billy brings music history and music theory come alive.