The Cobalt Prize
I have always felt that the blues as an art form is wide open, full of creative possibilities that allow it to transform and thrive without losing its essential character. What constitutes this character—which characteristics are thought as defining of blues—will inevitably vary somewhat across time, groups and individuals. Dictionary definitions offer a mere starting point to understanding the blues that books and various commentaries on the subject can deepen considerably, but the most complete picture of the genre emerges from the vast body of recordings available to us. The most important feature of this musical picture as I see it is its vitality—its raw expression of the living pulse of life—and such vitality can be sustained only through the act of creation. It is my opinion that it is more important for a blues artist to learn how to draw inspiration from blues classics than it is to learn how to play them; for all the value of reinterpretation, it is invention that propels art and artists forward.
The intention behind The Cobalt Prize is to encourage and support blues music by promoting the creation of new songs that both draw on the rich traditions of the genre and manage to strike a fresh chord with contemporary audiences. It is my hope that compositions created under its purview will speak to the past of blues music in a way that is relevant to the present moment and inspiring to future generations of this genre’s practitioners and fans. Anyone with an interest in music is welcome to enter the competition, regardless of past experience with the form.
I am very grateful to the Toronto Blues Society for supporting me in my vision of the Cobalt Prize and for their ongoing commitment to blues music and the Canadian blues community.
– Paul Reddick