Alabama Shakes, Gillian Welch and The Civil Wars all took home trophies when the 11th Americana Honors and Awards were handed out in Nashville on September 12. A number of lifetime achievement awards were given out as well.
Booker T. Jones of Booker T & The MG’s fame opened the two-and-a-half-hour-long awards ceremony by performing his classic hit “Green Onions” with a star-studded band that included Richard Thompson on electric guitar. Both men received lifetime achievement awards from the Americana Music Association: Jones as an instrumentalist, and Thompson for his songwriting.
Bestowing his award was Bonnie Raitt, who would later receive a trophy of her own.
“Perhaps the Americana Awards seems an odd place to celebrate the work of someone so intimately connected with the British folk revival, but it’s the songs. Jo-El Sonnier’s reading of Richard’s 'Tear Stained Letter,' Del McCoury’s version of '1952 Vincent Black Lightning,' Alison Krauss and my own renditions of 'Dimming of the Day,' which I’d like to say he wrote in his 20s," Raitt said. "It’s the songs, a respect for and the awareness of the traditions from which they emerged. But mostly, it’s just the magic of song. Oh, and he’s a pretty legendary guitarist as well.“
Later in the evening, Bonnie Raitt was given the Lifetime Achievement in Performance award by John Hiatt, who himself had received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting in 2008.
In his speech, Hiatt spoke of Raitt’s years of singing the blues. “She’s kept this sound alive, made it sing over thousands of shows down that sometimes hard road, always looking for the joy,” he said.
Later, the pair took to the stage and performed John Hiatt’s composition “Thing Called Love,” later a hit for Bonnie Raitt.
Gillian Welch was named Artist of the Year, and her guitar-playing partner David Rawlings took home the Instrumentalist of the Year trophy. The Alabama Shakes received the New/Emerging Artist award and Song of the Year went to Jason Isbell for “Alabama Pines.”
Producers Tamara Saviano and Shawn Camp won Album of the Year for “This One’s For Him: A Tribute To Guy Clark.” That award came minutes after Clark performed “My Favorite Picture of You”, a song written for his wife Susannah, who died in June. Clark’s performance of the song was one of the most powerful moments of a star-packed awards show.