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2023 Nominations Open

For Immediate Release

Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) announces public nomination phase for 2023 WAMI Awards

Enhanced voting process aligns with organizational renaissance to better reflect Wisconsin and its music industry

MILWAUKEE – Jan. 17, 2023 – Nominations are now open for the 2023 Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Awards as part of the organization’s commitment to honor and recognize the accomplishments of musicians statewide. This year, the general public will submit nominations and winners will be elected via a digital voting system used by the Academy of Country Music, the TEC Awards and the Madison Area Music Awards. The new voting and nomination process is vital to continuing transparency within WAMI and promoting inclusivity among the Wisconsin music community. The award show will be held in Milwaukee on May 21.

Starting today, fans, musicians and music-lovers can nominate local talent for the annual WAMI Awards. Wisconsin musicians, bands, vocalists, instrumentalists, recording studios, managers, songs and albums are all eligible for nomination, regardless of WAMI membership status. 

The new, independently verified voting system is part of WAMI’s recent transformation to create a more diverse and inclusive organization. Last year, Jason Klagstad was appointed WAMI president, bringing with him a vision to change the status quo and improve the organization for musicians across the state. WAMI’s top priorities include increasing engagement of musicians and community members, streamlining communications through an updated website and providing additional resources, support and outreach. 

“We are excited to actualize our goal of creating an open forum voting platform for the WAMI Awards, and will continue to strive to meet the needs of local musicians in our ever-changing industry,” said Klagstad. ““The post-COVID music scene is vibrant and active, and we are counting on our community here in Milwaukee and across the state to nominate and share their favorite local musicians with us.”

The nomination process begins today, Tuesday Jan. 17 and is open to the public on through Tuesday, Feb. 14. Once nominations are posted on the WAMI website, there will be two rounds of voting to determine this year’s award winners. Wisconsinites are invited to vote online for the People’s Choice Awards.

Here is a look at the timeline for the 2023 nomination and voting process:

  • Nomination/Registration: Tuesday, January 17 through Tuesday, February 14
  • First round of voting: Tuesday, February 21 through Tuesday, March 21
  • Final voting round: Tuesday, March 28 through Tuesday, April 18 

Recently, WAMI has seen a resurgence in popularity among musicians and music industry leaders across Wisconsin. The WAMI board has grown from 13 to 20 members, bringing in new business, legal and industry expertise, along with new perspectives and significant community partnerships. The WAMI board continues to prioritize diversity and modernization of operations through community wide outreach. Other ongoing initiatives include the return of WAMI events, reduced membership fees that provide increased value throughout the year and new partnerships with media venues and other music ventures. 

About Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI)

The Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) is a volunteer organization whose purpose is to educate and recognize the achievements and accomplishments of individuals in the Wisconsin music industry. In addition, we endeavor to provide annual scholarships to students and/or emerging artists in the Wisconsin community; promote the Wisconsin music scene; and showcase an awards ceremony annually. Visit to learn more.

For More Information Contact

Grace Gregg


To submit nominations for the 2023 WAMI Awards

Visit and register via our secure and independently verified portal.

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2023 Hall of Fame Inductees

MILWAUKEE – The Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) is thrilled to announce its 2023 Hall of Fame class, which will be inducted as part of the 41st WAMI Awards Show on May 21 at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom.

A signature celebration of Wisconsin music, the WAMIs will feature live performances and award presentations honoring achievements in a variety of categories as voted upon by our members.

The WAMI Hall of Fame recognizes the excellence and influence of top Wisconsin performers at home, across the country and around the world. This year’s slate of honorees reflect Wisconsin’s significant impact in the music industry across generations. In 2023, we celebrate the contributions of Hildegarde, Bobby Hatfield, Greg Koch and Willy Porter.

Says WAMI President Jason Klagstad, “Our Board of Directors is extremely proud to contribute to WAMI’s unbroken tradition of honoring state musical excellence and legacy and warmly welcomes this year’s new inductees. To see more of the rich Wisconsin history of WAMI’s Hall of Fame, check out their new webpage dedicated to Wisconsin state musical greats who have gone before us: WAMI Hall of Fame.”

About the WAMI 2023 Hall of Fame Class

Hildegarde Loretta Sell

Hildegarde: Born in Adell and raised in New Holstein, Hildegarde Loretta Sell became a cabaret sensation who went onto global stardom.

She was the first among single-name performers and was well known for the song “Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup.” Nicknamed “the first lady of the supper clubs” by Eleanor Roosevelt, Hildegarde appeared on the cover of Life in 1939. Revlon introduced a Hildegarde shade of lipstick and nail polish.

She was an inspiration to another WAMI Hall of Famer – the one-and-only Liberace once acknowledged her influence on his performances. Hildegarde passed away in 2005 at age 99.

Bobby Hatfield: Born in Beaver Dam, Hatfield earned stardom as part of the legendary duo, The Righteous Brothers.

Alongside singing partner Bill Medley, The Righteous Brothers earned their first No. 1 was “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” produced by Phil Spector in 1964. Follow-up hits included “Unchained Melody,” a Hatfield solo performance that  hit No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965.

It returned to the charts in 1990 when used in the blockbuster film, “Ghost.” The Righteous Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. “Rolling Stone” ranked them 16th among their top 20 duos of all time. Hatfield passed away in 2003 at age 63.

Bobby Hatfield
Greg Koch

Greg Koch: A native of the Milwaukee area, Koch has earned wide acclaim for his mastery of the guitar that continues today. Koch’s style, which he’s dubbed “gristle,” is all his own. He first drew attention upon his first place win in the 1989 Bluesbreaker Guitar Showdown judged by blues legend Buddy Guy.

Plenty more have since taken notice. Koch was invited to play for Les Paul’s 100th birthday and has drawn praise from virtuosos including Joe Bonamassa and Steve Vai. In 2012, Fender named Koch one of its top 10 unsung guitarists.

He’s also played a major role in educating the next generation of guitarists as author of many books for music publisher Hal Leonard.

Willy Porter: A native of Mequon, Porter is a tireless performer whose work is beloved in Wisconsin and known across the country.

Porter’s professional career began in 1990 with his album “The Trees Have Soul” with Paul Perrone. In 1994, Porter released the album, “Dog-Eared Dream,” which led to the Willy Porter Band touring as an opening act for artists including Tori Amos, Rickie Lee Jones, and The Cranberries. 

He signed with BMG/Private Music in 1995 and with Six Degrees Records in 1999. During that time, he toured with Sting, Paul Simon, and Jeff Beck. In 2005, he formed his own imprint, Weasel Records, with his manager Chris Webb.

Willy Porter

About WAMI

The Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) is a volunteer organization whose purpose is to educate and recognize the achievements and accomplishments of individuals in the Wisconsin music industry. In addition, we endeavor to provide annual scholarships to students and/or emerging artists in the Wisconsin community; promote the Wisconsin music scene; and showcase an awards ceremony annually. 

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2023 WAMI Awards Finalists

The WAMI Awards recognizes and honors outstanding achievements in the music industry in the state of Wisconsin.  The awards celebrate musicians, bands, songwriters, producers, engineers, venues and fans.

What is the WAMI Awards and What Does It Mean To Be A Finalist?

These finalists have been recognized and selected by their peers and fans for their work and contributions in the Wisconsin music scene.

A Closer Look at the Nomination and Voting Process

For the first time in the history of the organization, the WAMI Awards nomination and voting process was open statewide and  to the public through our partnership with Broadjam, a Wisconsin company that provides the the nomination and voting process for the Academy of Country Music, the Madison Area Music Awards and other national award shows.

Join us at the Awards Show

Celebrate the accomplishments of these finalists, see a host of live music performances and be there for the WAMI Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Greg Koch, Willy Porter, Bobby Hatfield and Hildegard: Sunday, May 21 at Turner Hall in Milwaukee.  Get tickets now.

See This year’s WAMI Finalists

See this year’s finalists by selecting the category from the menu below.

WAMI Award Nominees - Public