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ISBELL, WILLIAMS, STAPLETON: NOW THAT’S AMERICANA
Plus 15th Annual Americana Awards Nominees

With members of Congress on hand at Washington, DC’s legendary Manor on O Street, the Americana Music Association released the nominees for the 15th Annual Americana Honors and Awards at an invitation-only event. Produced by the musicFIRST Coalition, Jed Hilley’s annual confab and Awards Show at the Ryman Auditorium saw Jason Isbell, last year’s Album of the Year winner Lucinda Williams and first-timer Chris Stapleton emerge as the dominant nominees.

Isbell was nominated for Artist of the Year, while his July 2015 Something More Than Free picked up an Album of the Year nom and its focus track “24 Frames” scored a Song of the Year nod. Williams is up for Artist and Album for The Ghost of Highway 20, and Stapleton also took Artist and Album for Traveller.

Artist of the Year was rounded out by Bonnie Raitt, while Parker Milsap picked up the fourth Album of the Year nomination for The Very Last Day. First-time nominee Margo Price—a last-resort Third Man signee —picked up the only other pair: New/Emerging Artist of the Year and Song for “Hands of Time.”

Price and Williams, as well as Sierra Hull & Ethan Jodziewicz, performed at the event, streamed live via Facebook through NPR Music. The Americana Honors and Awards happen 9/21 as part of the annual AmericanaFest, shorthand for the Americana Festival and Conference, which runs 9/20-25.

The genre-spanning six categories—plus a handful of Lifetime Achievement Awards—recognize the best in American roots music over the past year. With Alabama Shakes, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Lake Street Drive, Milk Carton Kids and Tedeschi Trucks Band populating the only category with five nominees, the Lifetime winners will be announced over the next several weeks.

The Instrumentalist of the Year category encompasses an exceptional and eclectic mix, with Asleep at the Wheel veteran steel player Cindy Cashdollar facing off against Nickel Creek/Watkins Family Hour and solo artist/violinist Sara Watkins, along with Aussie guitarist/Rodney Crowell vet Jedd Hughes and fiddler extraordinaire Stuart Duncan.

Even more eclectic is the New/Emerging Artist category. Bluesy Leon Bridges is up against Price’s retro beer-joint country, while soul revivalists Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats tackle Oklahoma heartbreak songwriter John Moreland, making for one of the night’s toughest categories—and proving that the genre is still growing, still expanding and still fielding top-shelf music.

Album of the Year

  • Something More Than Free, Jason Isbell (produced by Dave Cobb)
  • The Ghosts of Highway 20, Lucinda Williams (produced by Greg Leisz, Tom Overby and Lucinda Williams)
  • The Very Last Day, Parker Millsap (produced by Parker Millsap and Gary Paczosa)
  • Traveller, Chris Stapleton (produced by Dave Cobb and Chris Stapleton) 

Artist of the Year

  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Jason Isbell
  • Lucinda Williams

Group Duo of the Year

  • Alabama Shakes
  • Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
  • Lake Street Dive
  • Milk Carton Kids
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band 

New/Emerging Artist of the Year

  • John Moreland
  • Leon Bridges
  • Margo Price
  • Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

Song of the Year

  • "24 Frames," Jason Isbell
  • "Dime Store Cowgirl," Kacey Musgraves
  • "Hands of Time," Margo Price
  • "S.O.B.," Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nightsweats

Instrumentalist of the Year

  • Cindy Cashdollar
  • Stuart Duncan
  • Jedd Hughes
  • Sara Watkins 
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