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Americana Awards 2019: Brandi Carlile, John Prine win big at the Ryman

Americana Awards 2019: Brandi Carlile, John Prine win big at the Ryman

on September 12, 2019 No comments
Matthew Leimkuehler

It’s Brandi Carlile’s world. We’re all just livin’ in it. 

The Highwomen-singing, Tanya Tucker-producing, ovation-earning songwriter brought home Artist of the Year at the 18th annual Americana Honors & Awards ceremony Wednesday night.

Carlile led an all-women Artist of the Year field that featured prolific old-time player Rhiannon Giddens, country success Kacey Musgraves and soul legend Mavis Staples.  

A four-time nominee, it marks Carlile’s first Americana Award. 

“I just wanna take a minute and say that Rhiannon Giddens is one of the most important artists in our genre,” Carlile said. “I wanna say that Kacey Musgraves did something new and special and that’s really hard, to do something new anymore. I wanna say that Mavis Staples is not the artist of the year. She is the artist of a lifetime.” 

“Mavis took a DNA test, turns out she’s 100% that legend.”

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Beloved songwriter John Prine received Album of the Year for his prolific 2018 release, “The Tree of Forgiveness.”

Actor and Americana appreciator John C. Reilly presented Prine with Album of the Year, the night’s final award. 

“I guess you could say this is my album of the year for about a year-and-a-half now,” Prine quipped. “We had a great time making the record.” 

Prine earned two total awards Wednesday night, also accepting Song of the Year for his 2018 number “Summer’s End.” It’s the sixth Americana Honor received by the consummate songwriter since 2003.

The roughly four-hour show thrived on unforgettable moments for fans of the genre’s faithful songsmiths: A Joe Henry and Rodney Crowell tribute to five decades of Bob Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” album; pensive newcomer J.S. Ondara, performing “American Dream” with genre staple Andrew Bird; 2019 Emerging Act of the Year War and Treaty excited the Ryman with the duo’s timely “Love Like There’s No Tomorrow.” 

Emerging Act nominees Jade Bird, Yola and Erin Rae showcased the impeccable talent in Americana’s new generation. Show-goers could hear strains in the Mother Church’s pews as Mumford & Sons joined hosts Milk Carton Kids for an eerie, stripped-down take on the former’s “Forever.” 

… and that’s not quite half of the show.

Giddens earned the first Legacy of Americana Awards alongside posthumous recipient Frank Johnson. 

An esteemed African-American fiddler from the Antebellum era, Giddens spoke poignantly about how Johnson played his way out of slavery into becoming a celebrated musician with thousands at his funeral. 

“I accept this …  for the countless legions of unknown, unnamed black musicians, who are an inextricable part of American music, without whom none of us — and I mean none of us — would sound like what we do.” 

Highwomen bandmates Carlile and Amanda Shires traded introductions (Carlile describing Shires as her “butterfly from outer space,” a term picked up from the former’s husband, Jason Isbell) before exceptional performances of 2018 tracks “The Mother” and “Parking Lot Pirouette,” respectively. 

In a show-stopping moment, Prine teamed with Bonnie Raitt for a performance of the timeless “Angel From Montgomery,” which Prine penned and Raitt popularized.

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The association honored soul legend Mavis Staples with the inaugural Inspiration Award. Self-described as “not a good talker,” she’d speak candidly about the legacy the Staples Singers.  

“… the trials and tribulations that we went through back in the day, but we’re still here,” Staples said. “We’re still here and we’re still carryin’ on. We’re still singing our freedom songs. Yes, indeed. It’s more relevant today than ever.”

The tribute to legends continued with Elvis Costello, a British poet capturing the sounds and stories of American rock ‘n’ roll for four decades. He received the honorary Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting.

Performing a “Red Cotton” and “Blame it on Cain” duet with Americana staple Jim Lauderdale, Costello reflected on his journey from new wave fixture to performing George Jones songs on the Ryman stage with the Possum in attendance. 

“When I first came to America, all I knew was the dream America that came form songs and from movies,” he said. “Either our dream would be confirmed … or our dreams would be mashed. Every road sign, every girl I tried to kiss or that I shouldn’t have kissed, they all ended up in songs.” 

Staples returned to close the show with her 2019 song “Change” before welcoming a smiling ensemble to sing the audience out the door with “I’ll Fly Away.” 

2019 Americana Awards winners 

  • Album of the Year: “The Tree of Forgiveness,” John Prine, produced by Dave Cobb
  • Artist of the Year: Brandi Carlile
  • Duo/Group of the Year: I’m With Her
  • Emerging Act of the Year: The War and Treaty
  • Instrumentalist of the Year: Chris Eldridge
  • Song of the Year: “Summer’s End,” John Prine, written by Pat McLaughlin and John Prine
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance: Delbert McClinton
  • Legacy of Americana Award, presented in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music: Rhiannon Giddens and Frank Johnson
  • Trailblazer Award: Maria Muldaur
  • President’s Award: Felice & Boudleaux Bryant
  • Inspiration Award, presented in partnership with the First Amendment Center: Mavis Staples
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting: Elvis Costello

Source: © Copyright Nashville Tennessean
More photo’s: Nashville Tennessean
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This is my friend Dick Waterman; we met at Mariposa in 1965 — I was hosting a blues workshop and he was managing the legendary blues singer Son House; he also worked with so many great blues folk, from Fred McDowell to Skip James, to Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy. In the pioneer days of blues internet groups, he was Richard the Younger and I was Richard the Elder (since I was a year older than he). Today's his 85th birthday — send him and his smashing wife Cinda greetings to their home in Oxford, Mississippi (jinxblues@aol.com) and tell him I sent you! ... See MoreSee Less

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On the eve of John’s 74th birthday, I’m scrolling through precious memories of our many years together. Still so hard to believe I’ll never get to look across at him singing Angel with me again.

One of my favorite memories is of a night way back in '73, when a gang of us gathered back at the motel after a day hanging out at each others’ shows at the Philly Folk Festival.
We grabbed our instruments and some libations and met back up at Stevie Goodman’s room-- John, me, Al Bunetta, Freebo, David Bromberg, John Hartford, and a slew of others, too many to mention. Soon we were sprawled over both beds, chairs, every corner of the room. Stevie, John and I were facing each other across the two beds and Stevie started playing and we all joined in. What followed was the most extraordinary night of music—Stevie, the pied piper, seemed to know an endless stream of folk songs, Beatles, Everly Brothers, old rock and roll—all the verses and intricate chords too. We swapped leads and harmonies and there may have been a mandolin and some harmonica. It was a magical night and we all felt it.

I can still see Stevie's irrepressible grin and John beaming back at him. The love they shared for each other was as true and deep as any I've witnessed.
There was so much joy and love in that room, I'll never forget it.

When the dawn's light finally crept under the motel curtains, we dragged ourselves up and straggled back down the halls, spent but still buzzed and grinning, passing the Festival goers on their way to the breakfast buffet.

Remembering this special night, I celebrate John on his birthday today. And I picture him reunited with his beloved Stevie and Al--arms wrapped around each other, grinning ear to ear, enjoying every bit of what he hoped he'd find when he finally got to Heaven.

Happy Birthday, my dear pal. I miss you so much. You’re here in my heart and I'll be singing Angel for you every time. You give me one thing, that I can hold on to. ...
To believe in this livin'.

To John, Fiona and the boys, I send
all my love,

Bonnie

#IRememberEverything
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From BRHQ -- Tomorrow night, Oct 7th 7:30pm-9:00pm ET (right BEFORE the VP debate) Watch Bonnie perform on the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence!
Join Melissa Etheridge, John Fogerty, Wynton Marsalis, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and more for the 2020 Concert Across America to End Gun Violence. Streaming here on Facebook: fb.me/e/1BHKSGvl2
For the full list of performers and to make donations click here: tinyurl.com/Concert-Performers

Then please watch the VP debate. And most importantly, VOTE.
Also check out our Celebrity Auction. Bid on one-of-a-kind experiences like some hang time with Jason Alexander, your own fitness session with celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels, or a some custom Nikes. Bid here: tinyurl.com/CAA-Auction
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