The Americana Music Association has announced the nominees for its seventh annual Americana Honors and Awards. Singer-songwriters James McMurtry, son of prizewinning author Larry McMurtry, and Levon Helm, longtime drummer for The Band, have each received three nominations, more than any other performer. VOA's Katherine Cole reports.

James McMurtry is a natural born storyteller, and the songs on his ninth CD, Just Us Kids, are bringing him some of his best reviews ever. So it's no wonder that the Texan could sweep the major musical categories when the Americana Honors and Awards are handed out September 18.

But Just Us Kids has some tough competition in the Album of the Year category. The other three nominees are Trouble in Mind by Hayes Carll, Levon Helm's Dirt Farmer, and Raising Sand, from Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. That album features "Gone, Gone, Gone," also nominated for the AMA Song of the Year.

"Gone Gone Gone," performed by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant is one of the four nominees for the Americana Music Association's 2008 Song of the Year. It's a tough category this year. The other nominees are James McMurtry's "Just Us Kids", Tift Merritt's "Broken", and "She Left Me For Jesus" by Hayes Carll.  Levon Helm, who also faces off against McMurtry for Album of the Year and Artist of the Year, is also nominated in that category for "Poor Old Dirt Farmer," from his Dirt Farmer CD.

Other awards categories this year include Instrumentalist of the Year, Duo or Group of the Year, and New or Emerging Artist. The AMA also hands out several special honors, including lifetime achievement awards for performance and songwriting. Jason and The Scorchers will receive this year's Performance Award, while the Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting will go to John Hiatt. Several other special honors will be announced in the coming weeks.

In all, 14 trophies will be handed out when the winners of the seventh annual Americana Honors and Awards are announced during a September 18 ceremony in Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. In addition to Levon Helm and James McMurtry, the nominees for Artist of the Year are Jim Lauderdale, who took home the trophy in 2002, and Steve Earle, currently touring in support of Washington Square Serenade. The album, featuring the song "Tennessee Blues," won the 2007 Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk/Americana album