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Grascals Win Big at 2006 International Bluegrass Music Awards

The annual conference of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) was held recently in Nashville, Tennessee. VOA's Katherine Cole attended, and filed this report on the 17th annual IBMA awards.

It was a big night at the IBMA awards for the Grascals, heard there performing "Hoedown in Motown" with guest guitarist Steve Wariner. Last year, the band took home the trophy for Emerging Artist of the Year. This time, the Nashville-based band claimed the organization's Entertainer of the Year honor.

The evening's big winner, however, was singer-songwriter Tim O'Brien. His first trip to the stage occurred early in the evening, when his "Look Down that Lonesome Road" was named the IBMA Song of the Year.

"Boy, this is an upset," he said. "But I'm not! I thank everybody that plays with me on the record, and the people in my band. My manager, and my record company, and my family. And all of you for being out there listening to the good songs. And all the great songwriters that I try to measure up to. Thank you very much."

Later in the evening, Tim O'Brien returned to the podium to pick up his Male Vocalist of the Year trophy. Last year, he released two outstanding CDs, Cornbread Nation and Fiddler's Green. The latter is home to a new version of Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain," a song that shows off Tim O'Brien's beautiful tenor voice.

In accepting his second award, Tim O'Brien acknowledged that the music he's making is not the traditional sound favored by Bill Monroe, the man who invented bluegrass.

"You know, I sing a lot of kinds of music," he said. "And bluegrass comes from a lot of different kinds of stuff, all these different combinations of things, all its roots. And it also flows out into other kinds of music. People think of bluegrass as one of the influences on all kinds of music: rock and roll, jazz. It doesn't matter what kind it is, people listen to this good bluegrass music! So, we're all in this together. And I'm really glad that I'm included in the bluegrass community. Thank you very much."

Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver performed "Sadie's Got a New Dress On" during the IBMA Awards show. That band won Vocal Group of the Year honors for the sixth time. They also took home the Gospel Recorded Performance trophy for their album He Lives In Me.

Another eagerly-awaited award was for Female Vocalist of the Year. The nominees were: Dale Ann Bradley, Sonya Isaacs, Alison Krauss and six-time winner Rhonda Vincent.

The award went to Rhonda Vincent.

"Thank you so very much! Wow, lucky seven! We thank you so very much," she said. "We [Rhonda and her band] get to live our dream each day. We love the music. We share the passion for the travel, and for the music! And I thank you very much."

The International Bluegrass Music Awards are selected by the professional membership of the IBMA, the trade organization for the bluegrass music industry.

The 2006 Awards program was hosted by Marty Stuart, who began his professional career as a 12-year-old mandolin player, in the band of bluegrass pioneer Lester Flatt. Another highlight of the program was Marty's performance with another pioneer, Bobby Osborne.