The big announcements from the award ceremony at this year’s Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas, which is where Americana UK virtually is until Sunday, were Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. And what choices there were. The awards are sponsored by Yamaha and the majority of recipients are pre-announced, but these three hotly contested awards are taken from a shortlist of nominees.
Album of the Year
They’re Calling Me Home by Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi
Wary + Strange by Amythyst Kiah
Un Canto por México, Vol. 2 by Natalia Lafourcade
Outside Child by Allison Russell
The Fray by John Smith
What a great selection – and on the night John Smith gave a fine live performance, but the final decision was: Winner: Allison Russell.
And for all of us who have been following The Birds of Chicago for years and have been enthralled by the powerful solo album ‘Outside Child‘ what can one say but “fully deserved“. And that was some tough competition!
Song of the Year (sponsored by Yamaha)
“On Solid Ground” by Reggie Harris
“Painted Blue” by Sarah Jarosz
“We Believe You” by Diana Jones
“Call Me A Fool” by Valerie June
“Changemakers” by Crys Matthews
Diana Jones’ performance was a moving one, another tough category to choose between but again an excellent choice of Winner: Crys Matthews
Artist of the Year
The Longest Johns
John Francis Flynn
And that is as wide a slice of folk as you can imagine on a list of five names. But great to see Winner: Allison Russell get the recognition, what a talent and what a wonderful person.
The preiously announced awards were:
The Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards – presented each year to honor the cultural impact of legendary folk music figures: one Living, one Legacy, and one Business/Academic. This year’s honorees are legendary accordionist Flaco Jiménez; the late legendary songwriter and interpreter Nanci Griffith; and Denver-based folk music center Swallow Hill Music.
Jason Mraz, the multi-platinum GRAMMY Award-winning singer-songwriter known for his positivity and a consistent attention to conservation, human rights, and LGBTQIA+ issues, received The People’s Voice Award, which is presented to an individual who unabashedly embraces social and political commentary in their creative work and public careers.
The Spirit of Folk Awards are presented to honor and celebrate people and organizations actively involved in the promotion and preservation of folk music through their creative work, community building, and demonstrated leadership. The 2022 recipients were musician, educator, and documentary producer Eugene Rodriguez of Los Cenzontles; composer, producer, performing artist, and Louisiana Red Hot Records Vice President and Head of A&R Lilli Lewis; NPR Tiny Desk Contest winner, musician, and disability rights activist Gaelynn Lea; Canadian Live Music Association President & CEO’s Erin Benjamin; Bolivian-American multi-instrumentalist, composer, and instrument maker Amado Espinoza; and Sound Diplomacy founder Shain Shapiro.
Award-winning Smithsonian Folkways Recordings artist from Odanak Wabanaki First Nation, member of the band Lula Wiles, journalist; and founder and Executive Director of the Bomazeen Land Trust non-profit Mali Obomsawin received the Rising Tide Award. The award was launched in 2021 to celebrate a new generation (under 30) artist who inspires others by embodying the values and ideals of the folk community through their creative work, community role, and public voice.
Colorado-based Planet Bluegrass received the Clearwater Award (sponsored by the Levitt Foundation), which is presented to a festival that prioritizes environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in sustainable event production.
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