By Ken Paulson –
The Americana Music Association’s Annual Awards and Honors event is always a special evening, but there was a special sweetness about it this year, much of it involving John Prine.
First there was Prine’s presentation of the Trailblazer Award to Iris Dement with an obvious fondness. Deeply touched, an emotional DeMent thanked John for being her friend. The two went on to perform a spirited take on their classic “In Spite of Ourselves.”
Later, Prine was named artist of the year over some of Americana’s rising stars. It’s heartening when roots music acknowledges its own roots.
I had the opportunity to present Graham Nash with the Spirit of Americana Free Speech in Music Award, and he took the podium to offer a gracious tribute to his friends the Everly Brothers. He then joined the Milk Carton Kids to perform the Everlys’ “So Sad.”
As always, it was an evening of great performances and heartfelt remarks.
This year’s honorees:
Artist of the Year: John Prine
Group/Duo of the Year: Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives
Song of the Year: “It Ain’t Over Yet”, Rodney Crowell (feat. Rosanne Cash & John Paul White), Written by Rodney Crowell
Emerging Artist of the Year: Amanda Shires
Instrumentalist of the Year: Charlie Sexton
Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award co-presented by the Americana Music Association and the First Amendment Center: Graham Nash
Lifetime Achievement Award, Trailblazer: Iris Dement
Lifetime Achievement Award, Songwriting: Van Morrison
Lifetime Achievement Award, Performance: Robert Cray
Lifetime Achievement Award, Instrumentalist: Hi Rhythm Section
Lifetime Achievement Award, Executive: Larry Sloven and Bruce Bromberg
(Photo: Getty Images for the Americana Music Association.)