William Bell, Billy Bragg, Shawn Colvin, Woody Guthrie, Jim Lauderdale and Bob Weir Will Be Honored During the Americana Music Association's 15th Annual Honors & Awards Show on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
The Americana Music Association announced this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award Honorees. The six honorees will be celebrated at Americana’s 15th Annual Honors & Awards held at the Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday, September 21. The show is the official kick-off the 17th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference, held in Nashville on September 20-25, 2016.
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting goes to singer and songwriter William Bell. William released graceful sides on Stax Records in the 1960s and 70s, when the label ruled Southern soul.
He penned songs that would be picked by such diverse artists as Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, Linda Ronstadt and Warren Haynes. In 1969, Bell moved to Atlanta, where he became a respected record maker and musical mentor, while maintaining ties to Memphis. Bell’s music had been out of the limelight for some time before he appeared as a performer in the documentary Take Me To The River, in which he reprised his song “I Forgot To Be Your Lover” with Snoop Dogg. Then in 2016, he released the acclaimed album This Is Where I Live, produced by John Leventhal, on a revived Stax label.
In the 1980s, Billy Bragg — this year’s recipient of the Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award— brought a brawler’s toughness to the art of the political folk song, competing with the biggest punk rockers of the day for impact and truth-telling. With an electric guitar and a salty voice, the London native sang songs that mixed social commentary with insightful, personal stories. His artistic debt to Woody Guthrie reached a zenith with his 1998 album Mermaid Avenue, a collaboration with Wilco that set Guthrie lyrics to original music. Bragg remains active in social issues and music making, including a new duo project with Joe Henry.
Shawn Colvin, this year’s Trailblazer honoree, launched her songwriting career a bit later in life than some of her contemporaries. The guests on her very first solo album (Bruce Hornsby, Suzanne Vega, etc.) helped validate her as a major talent who’d already impressed her era’s finest performers.
She’s been a mainstay of contemporary folk music across the three decades since, right up to her current duet work with Steve Earle, who is another high profile fan. She triumphed at the 1998 GRAMMY Awards, winning Record and Song of the Year for “Sunny Came Home,” but her catalog is bursting with songs that are at least as good. Her unsentimental and candid memoir Diamond In The Rough, which chronicled struggles with depression and eating disorders, was published to strong reviews in 2013.
This year’s President’s Award is posthumously awarded to Woody Guthrie. The stuff of American myth and a seeming extension of the work of Mark Twain, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie made himself a national character and commentator before mass media and without becoming a politician.
His “machine,” the acoustic guitar, may not have killed any fascists directly (as promised on the exterior of the instrument) but they certainly put pressure on them during tumultuous years in American and World events. Guthrie directly inspired Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and uncountable others, elevating the protest song to high art. In a career that spanned the 1930s until his death from Huntington’s Disease in 1967, Guthrie moved people – to laughter, to tears and to action.
Jim Lauderdale is this year’s WagonMaster recipient. Jim may be the most prolific and consistently excellent performing songwriter associated directly with the Americana music format, having released nearly 30 albums since his debut in the business in 1991.
He has helped define Americana as much as anyone while adding significantly to the larger legacies of the country and bluegrass genres. He’s received two GRAMMY Awards and he was the recipient of the very first Americana Artist of the Year prize when the association launched its prestigious Honors and Awards. He has hosted that show at the Ryman Auditorium for 14 years. His quick humor and unique personality have made him a favorite in broadcasting and emcee roles.
Bob Weir has done the seemingly impossible by personally carrying on the Grateful Dead’s music and ethos for more than 50 years. This year, Americana honors him with a Lifetime Achievement honor in the category of Performer. Weir met Jerry Garcia at a Palo Alto music store in 1963 and soon formed the jug band that would morph into the Dead. The band redefined the relationship between roots music and improvisational rock and jazz, partly thanks to Weir’s intelligent rhythm guitar ideas. He was the writer on some of the band’s most beloved material, including “Sugar Magnolia” and “Jack Straw.” During and after the Dead, Weir led other ensembles, notably Kingfish, RatDog and Further.
"These artists have not only influenced the Americana community, but the musical landscape as a whole,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association. “They all have been an inspiration to our community and we are humbled they will honor us in song at the Ryman this fall."
For more information on the Honors & Awards show, AmericanaFest, the Americana Conference and membership to the Americana Music Association, please
Wristbands are still only $60 for the week and conference registrations are still available.
With many thanks to Americana Music
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