Newcomers Billy Strings, Allison Russell Dominate The Night

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After flying between two of the genre’s giants over the past five years, American music’s highest honor went to someone new, and one of its brightest young stars, to boot.

Modern bluegrass phenom Billy Strings was named Artist of the Year at the 2022 Americana Honors & Awards, held Wednesday at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. True to his hard-travelling ways, however, he was unable to accept the award in person, as he is on the road in New England.

Strings’ first-ever win capped an evening led by new talent at the ceremony – held annually at the start of “AmericanaFest” week, presented by the Americana Music Association.

The album of the year award went to Allison Russell’s “Outside Child,” the critically acclaimed debut solo album by a Canadian-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter. Last year, Russell told The Tennessean that the album was “a chronicle of my roadmap from a very abusive childhood”.

Allison Russell accepts the award for Album of the Year at the Americana Music Honors and Awards show at the Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I was unlucky with the family I was born into, nurtured, adopted into,” she said from the podium on Wednesday. “But I’ve been incredibly lucky because of music. Music saved me. This community saves me every day. You lift us up every day. I’m so grateful.”

Russell’s victorious evening extended to one of his collaborators – multi-instrumentalist and composer Larissa Maestro – who was named Instrumentalist of the Year.

“I didn’t think this kind of thing was a possibility for me until last year,” Maestro said, mentioning Nashville drummer Megan Coleman – who became the first woman of color to be nominated for the award. in 2021 – along with other breakthrough nominees. during the last years.

“Those are doors that have opened for me to be here right now.”

During his gleeful performance of “You’re Not Alone,” Russell gave each member of his band a spin in the spotlight. In tune with her at center stage was her friend and champion, Brandi Carlile – also currently the Americana Music Association’s Hottest Girlfriend.

Two-time artist of the year Carlile added another trophy to his collection on Wednesday, winning song of the year for his pandemic-informed ballad “Right On Time.”

“God, I love this place,” Carlile proclaimed from the podium alongside bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth, who co-wrote the song with her and producer Dave Cobb.

Brandi Carlile waits for the Indigo Girls to take the stage to accept the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award during the Americana Music Honors and Awards show at the Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Shortly after their electrifying performance of “That’s How Love Is Made” (one of the best of the night), The War and Treaty were named Duo/Group of the Year. The husband and wife duo beat out Robert Plant and Alison Krauss in their category.

“It’s been a long journey, it’s been tough, but it’s been worth it,” Tanya Trotter said.

“If you want to know what Americana music is,” added Michael Trotter Jr., “It’s the sound of family.”

Just three years prior, the Trotters won their first Americana Award for Emerging Act of the Year. On Wednesday, the award went to newcomer Sierra Ferrell, who released her acclaimed debut album, “Long Time Coming,” last year. She also stole the show early on with the hot jazz-inspired “At the End of the Rainbow.”

Still together:Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are on the road again (and having a blast)

NextBilly Strings, Molly Tuttle and Del McCoury nominated for 2022 Bluegrass Music Awards

Featuring nearly two dozen performances – making it one of the densest and most diverse nights of live music Ryman sees all year – Wednesday’s show also packed in six Lifetime Achievement award shows.

One came as a complete surprise to the crowd, as well as its recipient, Buddy Miller. The songwriter, producer and longtime frontman of the show’s house band was gobsmacked as his friend Robert Plant appeared to present a special honor – whom Plant dubbed “The Buddy”.

Previously announced honorees included Nashville gospel vocal group The Fairfield Four, folk/rock duo The Indigo Girls, late country legend Don Williams, Stax Records executive Al Bell, and singer-songwriter of ” Wicked Game” Chris Isaac.

Several deceased personalities also received tributes throughout the evening, including indie country singer Luke Bell, who was found dead less than a month ago after going missing in Arizona.

Bell’s friend JP Harris told the audience that he “(surely) voluntarily killed himself after a long and difficult battle with serious mental illness”, and called on them to support “independent networks providing the help our healthcare system desperately needs. .” He performed Bell’s “The Bullfighter”.

Presenter Shannon Sanders paid tribute to Dr. Paul T. Kwami, musical director of the 2021 winners The Fisk Jubilee Singers, died on Saturday at the age of 70. In the penultimate performance of the evening, Nashville vocal group The McCrary Sisters, now a trio, paid tribute to their late brother and bandmate Deborah McCrary with a minor rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

“One of the last things she said to all three of us before she died was, ‘Don’t leave me,'” Regina McCrary said. “So everywhere we go, we promise to say his name.”

The sisters also led the house band in a show-closing all-star performance of the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There,” a Stax hit tribute to Bell. They were flanked by the art-rock vocal duo Lucius on one side, Ferrell and a cowboy friend on the other, while Russell and others sang and danced.

This brought to mind a comment Carlile made earlier in the evening while presenting the Indigo Girls. She, like countless others in this tent, struggled to find the answer to the question “What is Americana?”

The McCrary sisters perform

“Is it a gender? Is it a philosophy? Is this country music for liberals,” she asked, as the audience laughed and clapped.

“I never know. I don’t know exactly how to answer that, but I know it’s me. And I know he’s one step ahead and trying his best to be on the safe side. Of the history.

2022 Americana Honors & Awards Winners

Album of the Year: outdoor child, Allison Russell; Produced by Dan Knobler

Artist of the Year: Billy stringsSong of the Year: “Right on Time”, Brandi Carlile; Written by Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth and Tim HanserothDuo/Group of the Year: The war and the treatyEmerging act of the year: Sierra FerrelInstrumentalist of the Year: Larissa Maestro

Lifetime Achievement Awards

Legacy of Americana Award, presented in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music: Fairfield FourPresident’s Award: Don Williams (posthumous) Lifetime Achievement Award: Chris IsaacExecutive Lifetime Achievement Award: Al BellAmerican Spirit Award: indigo girls

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