Gil Anthony loves the blues.
He loves the performers. He loves the music. He loves the stories in the lyrics.
And after 40 years in radio, it’s still the blues that he prefers.
“To me it’s more real,” said Anthony, host of the local Blues Power radio show. “I like the stories it tells … People think blues is sad, but really there’s a lot of good up-tempo type blues – there’s jump blues, Chicago blues, Delta blues.”
His efforts to introduce blues music to others, such as becoming involved in the Blues in the Schools program, haven’t gone unnoticed.
Anthony will be one of 15 recipients of The Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award. He and other recipients will be honored during the foundation’s annual awards ceremony set for Feb. 1 in Memphis, Tenn. The ceremony is held in conjunction with the 29th International Blues Challenge, which features the final rounds of a blues music competition. Anthony traveled to Memphis earlier this week to judge some of the competitions leading up to Saturday’s finals.
“Blues is different than a lot of the genres now because it’s not as commercial,” Anthony said. “Blues is a family; it really is. Rock and country, it’s a business, but these blues guys, they’re earning a living just like you and I … There are very few egos in blues.”
Recipients of the Keeping the Blues Alive Award are nominated and then considered by an awards committee. The 2013 recipients are from different areas – radio, blues clubs, record labels, education, art, blues festivals, museums, journalism, print media, blues management, literature and even blues society affiliates. Recipients hail from all over the United States and the world, including some from Norway, Spain and Canada.
For his part, Anthony has hosted his Blues Power radio show since 1994. Today, the five-hour program airs on WVVL 101 FM in Enterprise on Sunday evenings and WWNT 1450 AM in Dothan on Monday evenings. The radio show also streams on the Internet with listeners as far away as Canada and Alaska. He became involved with Blues in the Schools through planning the Wiregrass Blues Festival. Anthony has also been involved with the Downtown Music Fest that was started a few years ago to raise money for the ALS Association of Alabama.
A lot of previous recipients in radio have come from larger markets, but Anthony said the Internet has leveled the playing field for radio shows like his Blues Power show.
Over his career, Anthony said he’s never felt like radio was a job.
“I’ve never had a job. I’ve never worked for a living,” he said. “Really, I haven’t, because I’ve always enjoyed radio.”