Allison Russell, Billy Strings, Brandi Carlile Earns Top Trophies at Americana Music Awards

Allison Russell, Billy Strings, Brandi Carlile Earns Top Trophies at Americana Music Awards thumbnail

Allison Russell, Billy Strings and Brandi Carlile were among those earning top accolades on Wednesday (Sept. 14) as the Americana Honors & Awards ceremony returned to its home at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Nearly a dozen honors were presented throughout the evening. They were sprinkled throughout an impressive lineup of performers that showcased Americana’s changing sound.

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Ace guitarist Billy Strings earned the evening’s most coveted honor, artist of the year, following the release of his third album, Renewal, in 2021. However, Strings was not able to attend the Ryman Wednesday evening as he was on tour through New England. Jerry Douglas, a legendary steel guitar and dobro master, presented and accepted the honor in Strings’ place.

Undoubtedly, Russell and Carlile’s collaboration for “You’re Not Alone” was one of the most soul-lifting moments of the evening. It was supported by a group ace musicians.

” Our circle is unbroken. Our circle is complete. Russell stated, “Nobody above, no one below, all of us equal in the listening sky,” a joyful summation of the love that evening.

“You Are Not Alone” was well-placed as the theme of the evening. It was either mentioned in acceptance speeches or introductions, or sung through the many collaborations and group performances.

Russell, who earned three nominations heading into the ceremony, earned album of the year honors for Outside Child, which was produced by Dan Knobler.

” Tonight, I heard two things: Family, community, union, belonging. Being uplifted, being inspired. Russell stated that she feels honored to be part of this community. Russell thanked her team and expressed gratitude to Carlile for helping Russell secure a Fantasy Records label deal. Russell grew emotional and said, “She] made phone calls and championed the record and championed us and lifted our family out of poverty during this pandemic.”

“She did that and this is what this family, this chosen one does. I wasn’t fortunate with the family I was adopted, fostered, or born to, but music .”

has made me unbelievably happy.

Larissa was named instrumentalist-of-the year. She thanked all those who were nominated previously and won the honor for breaking down the barriers in the category.

“I want to talk about doors opening for a second, because I didn’t think this kind of thing was a possibility for me…I’m 39 years old and I didn’t see people that looked like me in this category for a lot of years and I got to see it last year and they were my friends and it is so exciting.” Maestro said.

JP Harris paid homage to his friend and fellow musician, the late Luke Bell, who was found dead last month after a long battle with mental illness.

“Luke never got the chance to sing this song from this stage himself, like he should have, so I’m going to do my [best] in your stead, little brother,” Harris said, before performing “The Bullfighter.”

Carlile performed a second time, joining Lucius and Tim for “On the Rock.” While song of the Year went to Carlile’s “Right on Time”, written by Carlile and Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth, and Tim Hanseroth.

” It was an honor to have this song heard by you guys,” Carlile said, expressing gratitude to her co-writers. “This song basically states that sometimes, it’s just got to hit the fan,” she stated, thanking her co-writers.

Two genre-bending acts currently signed to major country labels were outstanding performers at the Americana Honors.

The War and Treaty signed with Universal Music Group Nashville earlier in the year. Their rendition of “That’s How Love is Made” was a riveting performance that brought the Ryman crowd to their feet. Later in the evening, they were named duo/group of the year, after winning emerging artist of the year in 2019.

” Our road has been long and it’s been difficult but it’s been worthwhile,” said Tanya Trotter who accepted the honor along with her husband, Michael Trotter Jr .

Morgan Wade is currently signed to Sony Music Nashville and is an emerging artist of year nominee. She performed a passionate take on the album track, “Run .”

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Sierra Ferrell, who recently released a new album, Long Time Coming, was named emerging act of the year, not long after offering one of the evening’s most engaging performances with “Rainbows.”

” I never thought that I’d be here accepting this…I love you all, thanks so much,” Ferrell stated.

Several lifetime achievement honors were given during the evening. Lyle Lovett honored Chris Isaak, Garth Fundis honored Don Williams with a president’s award and Carlile honored the Indigo girls with the spirit of Americana award. The Fairfield Four were awarded the legacy of Americana award. Al Bell was presented with the executive award.

Robert Plant wowed the audience by performing “Wide River to Cross” and presenting a lifetime achievement award to Buddy Miller, All-Star Band’s musical director. This award recognizes his collaborations with many artists, including Emmylou Harris (Ralph Stanley), Tom T. Hall (among others), and many others. Miller also performed “Wide River to Cross .”

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“I don’t know why this is happening…this is overwhelming,” Miller stated. “Thank you to Jim Lauderdale, my dear friend…this means so much .”

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Dr. Paul T. Kwami was awarded the legacy honor last year. Dr. Kwami, who served as the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ music director for 28 years, passed away last week, and Sanders led the crowd in a moment of remembrance before honoring the Fairfield Four.

The quartet originally formed as a trio in 1921 in the basement of Fairfield Baptist Church in Nashville. Prior to the Grand Ole Opry finding a longtime home at the Ryman in 1943, the Ryman Auditorium was home to performances from the gospel group The Fairfield Four. The current iteration of the group performed “Rock My Soul” and were presented with the 2022 legacy of Americana award.

As the evening ended, the McCrary sisters honored Deborah McCrary, their late bandmate. They performed the classic hymn “Amazing Grace” mingled with the melody of “House of the Rising Sun .”

The evening’s finale was marked by an all-singing performance of “I’ll Take You There”, the Staple Singers’ classic written by Al Bell, Americana Lifetime Achievement awardee.

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