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The Jimmy "T-99" Scholarship Fund

The Jimmy "T-99" Scholarship Fund was set up in order to award scholarships to school age students (pre-college) who demonstrate promise and creativity in music composition or performing.

The selection of the recipients and the amount of the scholarship(s) awarded is at the sole discretion of the Houston Blues Society Board.

YOU could be our next Scholarship Award Winner! Apply Now!


Jimmy "T99" Nelson (April 7, 1928 - July 29, 2007) was a blues shouter and songwriter. With a recording career that spanned over 50 years, Jimmy "T99" Nelson became a distinguished elder statesman of American music. Nelson got his start singing in church. In 1941, he saw a performance by Big Joe Turner while he was visiting Oakland, California, and realized he wanted to sing the blues. Big Joe taught Jimmy about singing, performance and the music business. Jimmy, in turn, absorbed the shouting style of his mentor.

From 1951 through 1961, Jimmy Nelson and the Peter Rabbit Trio released eight singles with the Bihari Brothers' Modern/RPM label. The biggest of these was the classic "T-99 Blues" (which refers to old Texas Highway #99), which debuted in June 1951. It stayed on the national R&B charts for twenty-one weeks and reached #1. In 1952, Nelson had another RPM hit with "Meet Me With Your Black Dress On."

Nelson began touring, performing with bands led by Joe Liggins and Roy Milton and playing venues including the Apollo and Howard theaters. He cut singles for a number of labels including Kent, Music City, Paradise and All Boy, and Chess (including for them the 1955 "Free and Easy Mind"). 

In 1955, Nelson met and married his Nettie (who is now deceased) and adopted Houston as his hometown. For the next 20 years, Nelson settled down and took a job working construction, though he continued to write songs and sit in with bands.

In the 1980s, Nelson came to the wider attention of blues fans when Ace issued ten of his sides on an album. Sweet Sugar daddy a compilation CD from Japanese P-Vine Records which mainly consisted of unreleased studio recordings from the 1960s and 1970s was also released in 1988.

Nelson released a comeback album in 1999 Rockin' and Shoutin' the Blues from the Bullseye Blues & Jazz label. This album was nominated in two categories of the W.C. Handy Awards the following year. Two more newly recorded albums followed on his own Nettie Marie label prior to his death, both featuring an all-star backup band including Duke Robillard. In 2004, Ace released "Cry Hard Luck" featuring re-issues of Nelson's Kent & RPM recordings from 1951-1961.

Nelson died of cancer at a nursing home in Houston on July 29, 2007. The Houston Blues Society was a beneficiary of the Jimmy "T-99" Nelson estate. The sum of $500 was bequeathed to the organization to establish a scholarship fund to be known as the T-99 Scholarship. This amount has since grown due to fundraising efforts and personal contributions to the fund.


The 2019 T-99 Scholarship recipients:
Taylor Nutt, Carter Pevoto, Danny Ochoa, Hannah Hererra, Ayden Cohen,
Chris "Chalky" White, Kane Alvarado, Mathias Lattin, and Gabriella Rose. 


It doesn't get any better than this!
Your support for The Houston Blues Society is what makes this happen!

​HBS is a 100% volunteer 501c(3) organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the rich Blues legacy of Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast - Past, Present, and as this picture aptly demonstrates, Future. 

Please join us in congratulating these youngsters, who have all shown so much promise and dedication 
to learning and playing the blues - Jimmy Nelson would be very happy indeed.

We're very proud to have been part of that nurturing process and to know that our Youth Program plays a valuable role in mentoring the next generation of blues artists - well done guys...! 


"In 2010 and 2011 I received the first and second T-99 Nelson Scholarships awarded by HBS.  So much has happened since then, it’s hard to narrow it down into something concise.  Needless to say, I’ve been to some amazing places and have met some amazing people!

The scholarship money from HBS allowed me to go to Austin and attend workshops with some fantastic teachers.  They included Jimmie Vaughan, Elvin Bishop and the late, great, (and extremely kind) Hubert Sumlin.  In addition to everything I learned musically at these workshops, it was also there that I first met the Peterson Brothers. Together, we represented Houston in the youth category of the IBCs in Memphis.  I also returned there with fellow T-99 award winner, Eric Hoovestol, in the band Texas 99 the following year. 

In 2012, I became the first woman ever to win a regional final in Guitar Center’s Battle of the Blues competition, earning me a spot in the grand finals in Hollywood where I opened for Doctor John and Joe Bonamassa.  When I returned to Houston, I played with the blues/rock band, Tin Cadillac, until I made the decision to return to school and begin pursuing a degree in music in 2013.  For the past two years I’ve been focused almost entirely on college.  I’m currently on track to earning an Associates Degree in Music this Spring at HCC, and I’m working as a church musician and music instructor to help cover the cost of my tuition.  My plan is to transfer to a four-year university next fall.

While my school/work schedule has definitely made attending jams and playing gigs more difficult, I haven’t stopped playing! I’m the guitarist in HCC’s fusion jazz ensemble and I’ve played with their big band for the last two years.  I’ve also developed a strong interest in other roots music, particularly that of Scotland.  I’m even taking lessons (via Skype) from a musician in Edinburgh who specializes in early Scottish music.  Why?  Well, why not!  If the blues is a feeling, then that feeling can be found in some unexpected places!  Sometimes even when the expression sounds different, the soul is the similar.

Last summer I had the incredible opportunity to go on tour in Europe with my friend and fellow musician, Cari Quoyeser, as the group “Cari & Becks” (Becks being my nickname).  We managed our own booking and played shows across Ireland and Scotland.  We found that they have an incredible appreciation for music (especially blues!) over there.  There’s nothing quite like hearing a crowded Dublin pub sing along to B.B. King, or playing “Texas Flood” in a tiny bar on the Isle of Skye (incidentally while watching international news coverage of the Memorial Day floods here in Houston; it was a bit surreal)! We hope to make a return trip next year.

In short, I have a lot to thank all of you at HBS for.  You were so friendly and encouraging when I was a shy 16-year-old guitarist being taken to jams by my Dad, and the lessons you’ve taught me will last a lifetime.  I hope to be able to pass along some of your encouragement and friendliness whenever I encounter up-and-coming musicians.  The T-99 Scholarship in particular is something that I’m very appreciative of, considering it helped me get to those Austin workshops years ago and kick start my career.  Unfortunately, I have to dive back into my school and work routine right now, but hopefully I can return to the Houston music scene as a degree-carrying, active-duty blues guitarslinger soon!"




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