Awards

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.”

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.

+ 20

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 But wait, there's more!

Inside The 50th Annual Songwriters Hall Of Fame with John Prine and more

on June 14, 2019 No comments

John Prine is being inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame

By Robert Dye

At the 50th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony last night, two of its newest honorees, John Prine and Justin Timberlake, both of different generations, described the common bond that drives songwriters to write, and the emotional satisfaction that overcomes them when a song is finished.

Prine, the legendary folk singer whom presenter and long-time friend Bonnie Raitt called “our own Mark Twain, our Woody, our Will Rogers,” succinctly stated “I gotta say, there’s no better feeling than having a killer song in your pocket and you’re the only one in the world who’s heard it.”

Bonnie Raitt congratulates John Prine just before inducting him into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame

The multi-talented Timberlake discussed how important it is to create music with other co-writers who share the same hard-work ethic needed in finishing a song, no matter how difficult the task may be.  “You’re doing therapy with somebody you just met. If you did that on the subway they would say ‘that bitch is crazy!’ he joked. “There’s always that one line in the song where you’re like ‘if we could just get that one line that leads into the chorus.’ You bond over that shared level of tenacity. And then every time you hear that song later on, you get to remember the moment you had that breakthrough. When people hear it for the first time, they just hear it. But you get to go back and have all those memories.”

Inductee John Prine poses backstage during the Songwriters Hall Of Fame 50th Annual Induction And Awards Dinner at The New York Marriott Marquis on June 13, 2019 in New York City. © Larry Busacca /Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame
But wait, there's more!

30 Years of ‘Nick of Time’: How Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Underdog Record’ Swept the Grammys & Saved Her Career

on March 21, 2019 No comments
by Natalie Weiner

Before Nick of Time became perhaps the biggest Cinderella story in Grammy history — as well as the cement to Bonnie Raitt’s now-unshakeable legacy as a singular song interpreter and advocate for the blues tradition, and the soundtrack to so many ‘90s babies’ childhoods — it was a last-ditch effort to salvage the career of a cult-favorite artist who had just hit rock bottom.

“Nobody expected it to sell well,” Raitt says now. “They just said, ‘We’re not going to pay a lot of money for you, so just make a record that you want.’”

The record she wanted, as it turned out, was an understated, beautiful expression of both personal and artistic self-assurance. Nick of Time’s stripped-down but polished sound wasn’t revolutionary to her fans, who’d long appreciated Raitt’s combination of remarkable musical talent and no-nonsense attitude. But to mainstream listeners, her ability to package an impressively wide array of blues, country, R&B and pop songs into one seamless, mostly analog album was a welcome sea change from the heavily produced, homogenized hits of the era.

It was Raitt’s 10th studio album, but her first to crack the Billboard 200’s top 25. Over nearly 20 years, she’d gone from prodigy college dropout to undeniable live performer, whose recorded catalog was filled with uncompromising roots music and major label attempts to channel her obvious gifts into pop success.

And at the very moment when that seemed the least likely, the impossible happened: the right artist made the right album at the right time. A critical darling who had flirted with the musical mainstream for decades made a classic paean to the trials and benefits of aging that was bold and approachable at once. And its biggest hit wasn’t even the one whose music video co-starred a hunky Dennis Quaid and went into heavy rotation on the then-nascent VH1.

The narrative was obvious: The press drooled about the then-39-year-old’s “comeback” from substance abuse and obscurity, and was agog that a woman “of a certain age” — as some outlets put it in an attempt at diplomacy — might reach a wide audience singing about her own life experience.

“It actually didn’t bother me at all,” Raitt, now 69, says with characteristic frankness. “Especially because the title song is about exactly that. A lot of the circumstances besides age came together to bring that album such wide attention, but I’ve never minded talking about my age. Something I’m proud of.”

The Recording Academy didn’t mind either, sending Raitt home with all four Grammys she was nominated for at the 1990 ceremony, including album of the year — which she accepted in stocking feet after breaking a heel during one of her many trips to the stage. The album has since sold over five million copies, and more importantly, revitalized the career of one of America’s most important roots musicians.

Looking back, the album wears its age almost as well as Raitt herself — both, it seems, are timeless.

“I have so many people to come shows with their mothers, or with three generations, saying ‘My mom played this album for me in the car when I was little, and you’re one of the artists that means the most to us,’” says Raitt. “It means so much to me that Nick of Time resonated with so many women, especially. I never expected it to have the response it did.”

*******

“Out of the worst thing came the best thing.”

After failing to get the kind of hits that might have made her seven-figure deal with Warner Bros. seem worthwhile to label execs, Raitt was dropped unceremoniously by the label. She fell into a rough patch during which her self-described “road-dog” lifestyle began to catch up with her. Producer Don Was, still looking for his big break, was going through similar burn out.

But wait, there's more!