Grady Champion

Daddy B. Nice's #108 ranked Southern Soul Artist

Portrait of Grady Champion  by Daddy B. Nice

"Make That Monkey Jump"

Grady Champion

May 8, 2019:

New Album Alert!

Sample/Buy Grady Champion's new album, Steppin' In: A Tribute To Z.Z. Hill at Apple.

Steppin' In: A Tribute To Z.Z. Hill

Down Home Blues

Shade Tree Mechanic

Someone Else Is Steppin' In

Bump and Grind

I'm a Blues Man

Open House At My House

Who You Been Giving It To

Three Into Two Won't Go

Cheating In the Next Room

Right Arm For Your Love

Everybody Knows About My Good Thing

When It Rains It Pours

Daddy B. Nice notes:

Grady Champion's new album of Z.Z. Hill covers is a masterstroke, both from the perspective of the artist and of the label (Malaco). Canton, Mississippi's (just outside of Jackson) favorite son has been as prominent in the crossover (white or mainstream) blues market as he has been a blip (other than "Make That Monkey Jump") on the southern soul (black) chitlin-circuit. And Champion's third release on southern soul's former pre-eminent label, Malaco, harks back to the resurgence of contemporary southern soul at the same Jackson label in the eighties with none other than the subject of this album: Z.Z. Hill.

The parallels are amazing. Malaco CEO Tommy Couch Jr. has made no secret of his alienation from post-Malaco southern soul, and he has pointedly refused to have anything to do with the artists of the current southern soul genre, up to and including number one-ranked Sir Charles Jones. Can Couch succeed with Grady Champion's revisionist blues? And what, if any, effect will it have on contemporary southern soul? And will Grady Champion still find himself an occasional headliner on contemporary southern soul venues, or will he move into the national (mainstream) blues market? It will be fascinating to see where this all goes. From first appearances, the music on Steppin' In sounds fresh, live and exciting.

--Daddy B. Nice

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Someone Else Is Steppin' In" on YouTube.

Listen to all the songs from Grady Champion's new album STEPPIN' IN: A TRIBUTE TO Z.Z. HILL on YouTube.

Buy Grady Champion's new STEPPIN' IN: A TRIBUTE TO Z.Z. HILL at Malaco Records.

An account by Ecko Records' John Ward of Tommmy Couch Sr.'s early days
in the music can be read in Daddy B. Nice's Mailbag. (Click here, then scroll down the letters to "RE: SOUTHERN SOUL, CHITLIN' AND FRATERNITY CIRCUIT: A SOUTHERN SOUL CEO RESPONDS.")

See Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Z.Z. Hill. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

To automatically link to Grady Champion's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other references, go to "Champion, Grady" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.

November 9, 2014: Daddy B. Nice's Original Profile

A dozen years ago, in the essay "On The Difference Between Southern Soul & The Blues, your Daddy B. Nice tried to explain the frequently cavernous gap between the blues (sometimes called "mainstream blues," "guitar blues" or "white blues") and southern soul. What makes Grady Champion such an interesting recording artist, in addition to his substantial talent and determination, is the fact that he grew up in the Delta, immersed in both divergent musical branches.

In Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Southern Soul Artists (90's-00's), first published over a decade ago, a handful of "mainstream" blues artists (Shemekia Copeland, Keb' Mo', Arthur Adams, Dr. "Feelgood" Potts, R. L. Burnside) were included in the chart in part to give the non-Deep South fan of black music some familiar names to make the chart of almost entirely-unknown "southern soul" artists (at the time) some context.

These artists (along with hiphoppers like R. Kelly, Kelly Price, Jaheim, Erykah Badu, Angie Stone) also represented the musical journey your Daddy B. Nice had taken in the early-Internet, pre-file-sharing days from the "mainstream" to the ever-more-obscure layers of chitlin' circuit, end-of-the-musical-rainbow treasures.

"Traditional blues," as I once wrote, "is the only music the majority of the music-buying public associates with the genre, or even knows exists." The statement still applies, but not nearly to the extent it did in 2000.

Almost a generation later, Daddy B. Nice's new chart, Top 100 Countdown: 21st Century Southern Soul, has not had to contend with the kind of inaccessibility of those early southern soul recordings as the genre has become ever more popular.

Grady Champion, however, represents the first 21st-century southern soul artist to straddle those two forks in black music (in the way, say, of Bobby Rush), and the first performer to "make" the new "top one-hundred" chart while still embodying those tensions between the blues and southern soul.

Some of your Daddy B. Nice's commentaries on Grady Champion's songs over the years fairly drip with disdain:

(To automatically link to all the awards, citations and other references to Grady Champion on the website, go to "Champion, Grady," in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.)

For instance, this remark from Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Tre' Williams & The Revelations, which "calls out" Grady's song "Weight Of The World" specifically as being illegitimate:

Countless artists from beyond the Delta (and its northern outpost, Chicago) have tried and failed to break into the Southern Soul market.
The fabled "sound" that makes Southern Soul unique isn't easily recreated, and many non-Southern artists (Simeo, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, B. Dupree and others, including Grady Champion's new single, "Weight Of The World,") have occasionally stumbled in spite of possessing great talent and production skills.

But Grady Champion came in at the #6 chart position in July of 2011:

6. "Make That Monkey Jump"---Grady Champion

"Weight Of The World" had an arrangement that sounded like it came out of a whites-only suburb in the West, but "Make That Monkey Jump" rocks. It's chitlin's, baby.

And by the end of the year, your Daddy B. Nice was including Grady in a short list of the new and upcoming stars in his year-end review and ceding "Make That Monkey Jump" one of the Top 25 Songs Of 2011:

21. "Make That Monkey Jump"-------------Grady Champion

Jumps out of the stereo speakers and grabs you by the throat with an immediacy that has even chitlin' circuit vets shaking their heads in dumbfounded amazement.

Grady's signing with Malaco this year (2014, for BOOTLEG WHISKEY) is huge. Not only does it represent an extraordinary accomplishment for a "hometown kid" who grew up worshiping the R&B powerhouse. (This is the label that gave up on the super-talented Vick Allen, after all.) But it also testifies to the mainstream-or-nothing mentality of present-day Malaco, hitching themselves to a young performer (Grady Champion) who, in the time-honored fashion of all of the great R&B performers before him, has a genuine chance to cross over to the white mainstream audience.

Hats off to Grady Champion. Southern Soul needs more like him.

--Daddy B. Nice

About Grady Champion

The youngest of a staggering number of siblings (28), Grady Champion grew up on a farm near Canton, Mississippi, a suburb of Jackson, with moves to the Miami area in his high school and post-high-school years. Steeped in gospel and blues, Champion nevertheless began his professional career in the early 90's as a rapper named M C Gold.

But over the decade Champion became a serious student of the blues, immersing himself in the work of the legendary stars like Robert Johnson and Sonny Boy Williamson and becoming proficient on both blues guitar and harmonica.

Champion released his first album, Goin' Back Home, in 1998. Payin' For My Sins (1999) and 2 Days Short Of A Week (2001) followed.

This trio of albums, all self-produced and distributed independently through CD Baby, showcased energetic revivals of classics like Slim Harpo's "Scratch My Back," Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City" and R. Kelly's "When A Woman's Fed Up" along with exploratory and charismatic originals such as "Policeman's Blues" and "My Rooster Is King."

Lack of recognition and response to the material, however, led to a fallow period in which Champion didn't record. At last, in 2007, Champion recorded a live concert at the 930 Blues Cafe in Jackson, Mississippi.

Aided by a live band including his brother Marquis on bass, Calvin Wilson on keyboards, and highly-respected, regional legend Eddie Cotton on lead guitar, Back In Mississippi Live jump-started Champion's stalled recording career, and the set--augmented by studio overdubs--was reissued in 2010 under the title Back in Mississippi: Live at the 930 Blues Cafe.

Stoked with a renewed creative fire, Champion published his finest studio album to date in 2011 with "Dreamin'," a collaboration with respected chitlin' circuit bluesman Zac Harmon and the keyboardist Christopher Troy, who both co-produced.

The album was distinguished by two very different and original new singles, an infectious dance jam named "Make That Monkey Jump," which became a chitlin' circuit sensation, and "Weight Of The World," a ballad with an unabashedly sentimental "pop" ambience and message.

The two songs, catering to different tastes and audiences, nevertheless in tandem brought Grady Champion his first taste of legitimate stardom. "Make That Monkey Jump" was cited as "Best Chitlin' Circuit Blues Song" by Daddy B. Nice's Southern Soul RnB and also won the Blues Critic Award for "Best Down Home Blues Song," and the album DREAMIN' was a nominee for Blues Foundation Soul Blues Album of the Year in 2012.

The album Shanachie Days, which brought together mostly previously-released material from Champion's earlier collections, came out in 2012, followed by Tough Times Don't Last, featuring the title tune and equally inspirational ballad, "Mississippi Pride," in 2013.

2014 was Grady Champion's biggest year to date. He was featured on the cover of "Living Blues" magazine's August issue and he was signed to a contract with Jackson's Malaco Records for his album Bootleg Whiskey. Anchored by the first, well-received single, "South Side," the signing with Malaco (the onetime giant of independent southern soul labels) fulfilled a lifelong dream for the Jackson, Mississippi native.

Grady Champion discography:

Goin' Back Home (Grady Shady Music 1998)

Payin' for My Sins (Grady Shady Music 1999)

2 Days Short Of A Week (Grady Shady Music 2001)

Back In Mississippi Live (Grady Shady Music 2008)

Back In Mississippi Live At The 930 Blues Cafe (Grady Shady Music 2010)

Weight Of The World Single (Grady Shady Music 2011)

Dreamin' (Grady Shady Music 2011)

Shanachie Days (Grady Shady Music 2012)

What Would Christmas Be Without You Single (Grady Shady Music 2012)

Tough Times Don't Last (Grady Shady Music 2013)

Bootleg Whiskey (Malaco 2014)

One Of A Kind (Malaco 2016)

Steppin' In: A Tribute to Z.Z. Hill (Malaco 2019)




November 8, 2014: Grady Champion on YouTube

Listen to Grady Champion singing "On The South Side" on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Make That Monkey Jump" on YouTube (Official Video).

Listen to Lacee singing "I Ran A Good Man Away" on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "South Side" Live on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "The Thrill Is Gone" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Thank You for Giving Me the Blues" on YouTube.

Watch Grady Champion Live Onstage on Fox on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Weight Of The World" on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Baby What You Want Me To Do" on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Scratch My Back" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Wang Dang Doodle" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Smokestack Lightning" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Policeman Blues" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion being interviewed on Live On ABC Chicago on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "My Babe" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Shake Your Money Maker" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "South Side" Live Onstage at CBS Memphis on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Stand By Me" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Grady Champion singing "Dock Of The Bay" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Watch the "Make That Monkey Jump" Line Dance Instructional Video on YouTube.


December 6, 2014:

Grady Champion On Tour

Grady Champion is undertaking an extensive tour beginning in December 2014 and extending through January and February 2015. Champion and band will be appearing in Dothan, Alabama and the Delta towns around Jackson, Mississippi, including Madison and Grady's oft-frequented venue at the Ameristar Casino in Vicksburg throughout December. Then, starting around New Year's Eve, Grady gets really intense with nightly appearances in Greenville, Lexington, Memphis, and Jackson before heading north to Topeka, Kansas en route to Alberta, Canada, where he'll do a two-night date in Calgary followed by an entire week in Edmonton at a club called, aptly enough, Blues On Whyte. He'll return to Mississippi for a quartet of gigs in Vicksburg and one in Memphis in January and February.

--Daddy B. Nice

See Daddy B. Nice's Concert Calendar.



November 2, 2014: NEW ALBUM ALERT!

Sample/Buy Grady Champion's new BOOTLEG WHISKEY CD.

See Daddy B. Nice's #2-ranked Southern Soul Single for September 2014: Grady Champion's "South Side."

Listen to Grady Champion singing "On The South Side" on YouTube.


September 15, 2016: NEW ALBUM ALERT!

Sample/Buy Grady Champion's new ONE OF A KIND CD.


Honorary "B" Side

"South Side"

5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Make That Monkey Jump by Grady Champion
Make That Monkey Jump

CD: Dreamin'
Label: GSM

Sample or Buy

5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy South Side by Grady Champion
South Side

CD: Bootleg Whiskey
Label: Waldoxy

Sample or Buy
Bootleg Whiskey

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Mississippi Pride by Grady Champion
Mississippi Pride

CD: Tough Times Don't Last
Label: Grady Shady

Sample or Buy
Tough Times Don't Last

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy My Rooster Is King by Grady Champion
My Rooster Is King

CD: Dreamin'
Label: Grady Champion/GSM

Sample or Buy

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Policeman Blues by Grady Champion
Policeman Blues

CD: 2 Days Short Of A Week
Label: Grady Champion/GSM

Sample or Buy
2 Days Short Of A Week

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Thank You for Giving Me the Blues by Grady Champion
Thank You for Giving Me the Blues

CD: Dreamin'
Label: Grady Champion/GSM

Sample or Buy

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Weight Of The  World by Grady Champion
Weight Of The World

CD: Dreamin'
Label: Grady Champion/GSM

Sample or Buy

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