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AMERICANA AWARDS NOMS FIND BALANCE

Leave it to Americana to get its response right. With the names revealed for the 19th annual Americana Honors & Awards, a slew of double X chromosomes is dominating the categories. Leading the pack, Brandi Carlile draws six nominations—as Artist of the Year, producer (While I’m Livin’), group member (see below) and songwriter (“Bring Me My Flowers Now,” “Crowded Table). Former Alabama Shakes’ frontwoman Brittany Howard scores three with Album (Jamie), Song (“Stay High”) and Artist; as does country legend Tanya Tucker with Artist, Album (While I’m Livin’) and Song (“Bring Me My Flowers”); and alt-country uber-group The Highwomen (featuring Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires) snags Duo/Group, Album (The Highwomen) and Song (“Crowded Table”).

But that’s just the tip of the girl power. Garage-country siren Aubrie Sellers pulls noms for New Artist and Song (“My Love Will Not Change,” with Steve Earle, written by Shawn Camp and Billy Burnette), while the Dan Auerbach-produced country-soul diva and occasional Highwoman Yola is up for Artist. Our Native Daughters, the roots-Afro-banjo experience from Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell, give Smithsonian/Folkways a Duo/Group nomination; Kelsey Waldon and Katie Pruitt receive New Artist nominations; and Ellen Angelico, Annie Clements and Brittany Haas all are up for Instrumentalist of the Year.

It’s an old-guard/new-guard kind of ballot. The Drive-By Truckers score Duo/Group and Song nods for the pointed “Thoughts and Prayers,” while Nathaniel Rateliff earns both an Album (And It’s Still Alright) and Song (“And It’s Still Alright”) nomination. Longtime band anchor Buddy Miller and his wife Julie Miller are also up for Duo/Group.

John Prine, who passed in April, was alive during balloting. After the response to The Tree of Forgiveness, he’s nominated for Artist of the Year.

Just as heartening is the number of nominees of color. For a genre that attracts a decidedly white, slightly older NPR audience, the diversity has manifested. Not only are Austin-based, Grammy-nominated psycho-soul duo Black Pumas recognized for New Artist and Duo/Group, but every category except Instrumentalist of the Year has African-American or Latin nominees.

In a different time, one wonders what might’ve been in the cards for Tyler Childers, nominated only for Album for his Sturgill Simpson and Dave Ferguson-produced Country Squire, or New Artist sensation Billy Strings. Both have had massive visibility, touring and acclaim, but this year it was about even more.

With a voting base that leans more liberal and is likely to read a daily newspaper, the Americana Music Association suggests that roots-music lovers are acutely aware of the world around them. It’s reflected in this year’s ballot and will make for an intriguing show with great depth on 9/16 at the Ryman Auditorium, whether social distancing is a factor or not.

With a slate of Lifetime Achievement Awards to be presented as well, the night should have that unique camaraderie and joie du musique that defines this annual celebration. Over the years, a diverse list of the very best song-driven artists have honored or been honored, including k.d. lang, Van Morrison, Mavis Staples, Bob Weir, Buddy Guy, George Strait, Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Guy Clark, Gregg Allman, The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes, Solomon Burke, Rosanne Cash, the late Dr. John with Dan Auerbach, Irma Thomas, Rodney Crowell, Levon Helm and Robert Plant

19th Annual Americana Honors & Awards Nominees:

ALBUM OF THE YEAR:

  • And It’s Still Alright, Nathaniel Rateliff; produced by James Barone, Patrick Meese and Nathaniel Rateliff
  • Country Squire, Tyler Childers; produced by David Ferguson and Sturgill Simpson
  • The Highwomen, The Highwomen; produced by Dave Cobb
  • Jaime, Brittany Howard; produced by Brittany Howard
  • While I’m Livin’, Tanya Tucker; produced by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings 

ARTIST OF THE YEAR:

  • Brandi Carlile
  • Brittany Howard
  • John Prine
  • Tanya Tucker
  • Yola

DUO/GROUP OF THE YEAR:

  • Black Pumas
  • Drive-By Truckers
  • The Highwomen
  • Buddy & Julie Miller
  • Our Native Daughters 

EMERGING ACT OF THE YEAR:

  • Black Pumas
  • Katie Pruitt
  • Aubrie Sellers
  • Billy Strings
  • Kelsey Waldon

INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR:

  • Ellen Angelico
  • Annie Clements
  • Brittany Haas
  • Zachariah Hickman
  • Rich Hinman 

SONG OF THE YEAR:

  • “And It’s Still Alright,” Nathaniel Rateliff; written by Nathaniel Rateliff
  • “Bring My Flowers Now,” Tanya Tucker; written by Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth and Tanya Tucker
  • “Crowded Table,” The Highwomen; written by Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Lori McKenna
  • “My Love Will Not Change,” Aubrie Sellers featuring Steve Earle; written by Billy Burnette and Shawn Camp
  • “Stay High,” Brittany Howard; written by Brittany Howard
  • “Thoughts and Prayers,” Drive-By Truckers; written by Patterson Hood

 

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