Singer and songwriter Darrell Scott, newcomers The Avett Brothers, and Patty Griffin are among the out-of-the-musical-mainstream performers to win at the 6th Annual Americana Honors and Awards recently in Nashville. VOA's Katherine Cole reports on the awards honoring music based on country, folk, bluegrass and blues traditions, and the people who play it.
Song of the Year is a tough category at every music awards show, and it was no different at the Americana Honors and Awards. Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Elizabeth Cook and Darrell Scott were all vying for the honor. And the winner? Darrell Scott for "Hank Williams' Ghost," the title track to his most-recent CD.
In his acceptance speech for Song of the Year, Darrell Scott explained how he came to write "Hank Williams' Ghost." He also thanked his father, himself a singer and songwriter.
"He always knew when he had a good line. His voice would crack because the emotion would kind of take over," he said. "It would just tell the truth that he was on to something. So I want to thank my dad. And the way this song came about, I'd sort of been living this song for a while. It had kind of been buzzing around in my head, just the general subject. And then a friend of mine out in North Carolina sent me a guitar he had made for me … a baritone guitar. It arrived one morning, and I swear this song was in the guitar. Because I popped the guitar case open, and started working on it, and the song really came out in about the four minutes or so that it is."
And while her song "Heavenly Day" did not win Song of the Year, Patty Griffin did not go home from the Americana Honors and Awards empty-handed. Her "Children Running Through" triumphed over releases by The Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams to take Album of the Year. But that wasn't the only honor for Patty that night. She was also named Americana Artist of the Year.
"Thank you very much. It's quite an honor to be honored in this town," she said. "The legacy is huge, and wonderful and rich, and I'm always inspired by it. Thank you!'
The Avett Brothers were also double winners, receiving both the Emerging Artist Award, and the trophy for Group of the Year.
The Americana Music Association also presents several special awards each year. Mavis Staples was given the Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award. Four Lifetime Achievement Awards were also handed out, with Willie Nelson honored for his songwriting, Ry Cooder for his playing, and Jim Dickinson for producing great records. The Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance was presented to Joe Ely by his longtime friend and fan, Lyle Lovett.
"The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for performer was destined to become a great American artist," said Lovett. "From his beginnings in Amarillo, Texas, through his youth in Lubbock, he has taken us along on the creative adventure of his life. His independent spirit and his individual voice define what we mean when we talk about Americana [music]. The romance, the characters, and the places he introduces us to aren't larger than life, but rather are as large as life really is. He tells us about our lives by telling us about his. He shows us what is possible for us by telling us about what he's done. He explains for us the romance of real life."
Lyle Lovett was also presented with an Americana honor this year, as he was the first-ever recipient of the Trailblazer Award for his career achievements. Lyle was then joined by Joe Ely, Patty Griffin and others who returned to the stage for the evening's two-song finale, which included this version of his song "If I Had A Boat."