The Americana Music Association celebrated distinguished members of its community tonight and revealed the winners of the 17th annual Americana Honors & Awards at the historic Ryman Auditorium. A generation-bridging group of musical innovators garnered coveted awards, including John Prine (Artist of the Year), Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Duo/Group of the Year), Tyler Childers (Emerging Artist of the Year) and Molly Tuttle (Instrumentalist of the Year).
Isbell and his band the 400 Unit swept the annual member-voted categories with a total of three awards: Album of the Year “The Nashville Sound,” produced by the ubiquitous Dave Cobb, Song of the Year for “If We Were Vampires,” written by Isbell and, Duo/Group of the Year. 2003 Americana Lifetime Achievement (Songwriting) honoree John Prine won Artist of the Year for the second consecutive year (and third overall), illustrating his ongoing relevance and timeless impact of his almost five-decade career.
Also honored by the Americana music community are rising roots stars like Tyler Childers, who was named Emerging Artist of the Year after an impressive touring and sales year lead by his debut “Purgatory.” Bluegrass virtuoso Molly Tuttle was recognized with her first Americana trophy in the category of Instrumentalist of the Year.
For nearly two decades, the Americana Honors & Awards program has provided a unique platform for commemorating the best and brightest musicians in the Americana music scene while showcasing once-in-a-lifetime performances. This evening, Americana powerhouse Brandi Carlile championed individuality with her anthemic “The Joke” and k.d. lang effortlessly crooned her signature, “Trail of Broken Hearts.” Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Buddy Guy reminded the world of why he’s the godfather of Chicago blues with a scorching rendition of “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues.”
Harmony-laced trio I’m With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan) and game-changing newcomers like Anderson East, Courtney Marie Andrews, Margo Price and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats left it all on the famed Ryman stage, while serving as a testament to the radiant future of this beautiful art form encompassing folk, country, blues, soul, rock and roots music.
I am continually humbled to experience the caliber of talent that gathers under one roof for one incredibly special night of the year,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association. “I have nothing but absolute reverence for every single one of these musicians and am looking forward to witnessing more of their evidently fruitful careers for years to come.”
Previously announced Lifetime Achievement honors were accepted by Rosanne Cash (“Spirit of Americana” Free Speech Award, co-presented by the First Amendment Center), Buddy Guy (Instrumentalist), lang (Trailblazer), Irma Thomas (Performance) and Olivia Records’ Cris Williamson and Judy Dlugacz (Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive).
For the first time, Grammy-nominated duo The Milk Carton Kids hosted the night’s festivities, which Emmylou Harris lovingly calls “the shining star of Nashville and music everywhere.” Americana music’s most awarded singer-songwriter and producer Buddy Miller returned as reigning musical director with an Americana All-Star Band featuring Don Was, Jerry Pentecost, Joe Pisapia, Ian Fitchuk, Lillie Mae, Joshua Grange, Jim Hoke and the incredible McCrary Sisters backing many of the night’s performers.
2018 Americana Honors & Awards Winners and Honorees:
Album of the Year: “The Nashville Sound,” Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, produced by Dave Cobb
Artist of the Year: John Prine
Song of the Year: “If We Were Vampires,” Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, written by Jason Isbell
Duo/Group of the Year: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Emerging Artist of the Year: Tyler Childers
Instrumentalist of the Year: Molly Tuttle
“Spirit of Americana” Free Speech Award, presented in partnership with the First Amendment Center: Rosanne Cash
Americana Trailblazer Award: k.d. lang
Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist: Buddy Guy
Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance: Irma Thomas
Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive: Cris Williamson and Judy Dlugacz of Olivia Records
The 17th annual Americana Honors & Awards is the hallmark event of AMERICANAFEST week, which continues through this Sunday, September 16th.
For more information on the Honors & Awards and AMERICANAFEST, please visit www.americanamusic.org.