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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."