Good article in the Guardian today who had other things on their mind (Jez we can…) but found the time to muse that thanks in part to Mumford and Sons, there are more UK artists making American roots music (this is their premise not mine before you reach for your mouse) – and there’s even government funding to help them in the US. It reports: “A six-day conference on Americana music would suggest that all the artists were from where we expect Americana music to originate: America.”
Not so. While the Americana Music Festival and Conference, which wrapped on Sunday in Nashville, primarily focused on artists from the States, a good number were from Britain, where the genre is becoming better known and where artists are feeling more enabled to play music that appeals to their sensibilities for string-based music that harkens back to traditional country icons, from Hank Williams to Dolly Parton. The hope among many is that the next Margo Price, Chris Stapleton or Sturgill Simpson won’t come from Tennessee but from the UK.
“Before, people [in the UK] put your music in folk or blues categories. But there is newfound ownership of this genre and the origin of it as well,” said Yola Carter, an unsigned country singer from outside Bristol, who performed songs from her forthcoming album throughout Nashville last week.
The conference, which featured familiar artists such as Emmylou Harris, John Prine, and Dwight Yoakam as well as dozens of new faces, is geared to distinguish artists whose music falls outside the narrow aesthetics of commercial country radio in an effort to grow a community among industry leaders and audiences. The Americana Music Association, the not-for-profit that organized the festival, has had early successes in promoting Americana. There are now three Grammy categories dedicated to Americana artists, Billboard now charts its best sellers, and the Merriam-Webster dictionary now defines Americana as a legitimate musical genre.”
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