News / Arts & Entertainment

2012 a Banner Year for American Roots Musicians

The Alabama Shakes, with Brittany Howard, perform during the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, March 15, 2012.
The Alabama Shakes, with Brittany Howard, perform during the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, March 15, 2012.
Katherine Cole
Since American Roots music is difficult to define, it might be easier if you listen to some of the year’s best …like the Grammy-nominated “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes.

“Rolling Stone” Magazine named that Alabama Shakes tune their top song of the year, beating other Top 10 tracks by Taylor Swift, Bob Dylan, Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Jack White. Not bad for a band that 18 months ago had a hard time selling out 500-seat clubs. This year, they’ve opened for the Drive-By Truckers, Jack White and Robert Plant, and sold out shows in the U.S., Europe, the U.K., Australia and South America.

Alabama Shakes also earned three Grammy nominations: Best Rock Performance for “Hold On,” Best New Artist and their debut album, “Boys & Girls” is up for Best Recording Package.  They didn’t even release their first full-length album until April of this year.

2012 a Banner Year for American Roots Musicians
2012 a Banner Year for American Roots Musiciansi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The Lumineers, (L-R) Wesley Schultz, Neyla Pekarek and Jeremiah Fraites pose for a photo backstage at the Grammy Nominations Concert Live! at Bridgestone Arena, Dec. 5, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee.The Lumineers, (L-R) Wesley Schultz, Neyla Pekarek and Jeremiah Fraites pose for a photo backstage at the Grammy Nominations Concert Live! at Bridgestone Arena, Dec. 5, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee.
x
The Lumineers, (L-R) Wesley Schultz, Neyla Pekarek and Jeremiah Fraites pose for a photo backstage at the Grammy Nominations Concert Live! at Bridgestone Arena, Dec. 5, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Lumineers, (L-R) Wesley Schultz, Neyla Pekarek and Jeremiah Fraites pose for a photo backstage at the Grammy Nominations Concert Live! at Bridgestone Arena, Dec. 5, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Another debut band with a banner year was The Lumineers. The Denver-based trio has two Grammy nominations: Best New Artist and Best Americana Album.  Its self-titled debut came out in the spring and has stayed on the charts since then, going Gold and selling close to 520,000 copies to date. The official video for “Ho Hey” is a hit, too with more than 20 million views on YouTube so far.

No discussion of 2012 Roots music could be complete without a mention of 24-year-old John Fullbright. Unlike the two bands mentioned already, John’s critically-acclaimed and Grammy-nominated debut “From The Ground Up” was a totally independent release. This means he put it out himself, without the help of a record label, large or small, raising the money to record the album via the fan funding web site Kickstarter. The resulting record has landed atop many critics’ Top 10 lists, with the song “Gawd Above” singled out for special praise.

It wasn’t just the first timers who were releasing brilliant Folk, Americana and Bluegrass albums this year. There were new albums from Darrell Scott, Gretchen Peters, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Bonnie Raitt, just to name five. On the bluegrass side,  Special Consensus gave us some fine new music, as did The Boxcars and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

Mumford and Sons came back in a big way, earning six Grammy nominations for their second album, “Babel.” It sold 600,000 copies in its first week, proving the British band was no one-hit wonder. The boys also proved they weren’t too big to still have fun, showing up to lend their voices and picking prowess to a track on dobro wizard Jerry Douglas’ new album, “Traveler.” Jerry told me that when Paul Simon found out they’d gone into the studio to record a version of his song “The Boxer,” Paul wanted in on the fun. So he added a couple of guitar parts, some bells and vocals to the mix.  All in all, it was a great year for American Roots music.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."