Singer-songwriter and Americana Wagonmaster Award recipient Jim Lauderdale will preside as host over the festivities, while Americana’s most-awarded artist, songwriter, musician, and producer Buddy Miller takes the reigns for musical direction of the Americana All-Star Band featuring Larry Campbell, Robbie Crowell, Jim Hoke, Jerry Pentecost, Chris Wood and the incredible McCrary Sisters.
The list of performers and presenters for the awards this year will showcase an eclectic mix of musical icons and electrifying newcomers.
Instrumentalist of the Year: Spencer Cullum, Jr.
During the awards, they will also present esteemed accolades to Robert Cray, Iris DeMent, Hi Rhythm, Van Morrison, Graham Nash and HighTone Founders Larry Sloven and Bruce Bromberg in celebration of their creative impact in Americana music.
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance will go toRobert Cray. Cray has been bridging the lines between blues, soul and R&B for over four decades with five GRAMMY® wins. After bursting onto the scene as band leader for the Robert Cray Band in 1974, he and his band became responsible for bringing the timeless soul sound of their mentors John Lee Hooker, Etta James and Albert Collins to a younger audience. Throughout his expansive career, he has performed with the likes of Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, BB King, Bonnie Raitt and the late Chuck Berry. His latest album Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm (Jay-Vee Records) was produced by Steve Jordan at the historic Royal Studios in Memphis, Tenn.
Iris DeMent will be receiving the Americana Trailblazer Award and exemplifies what it means to forge your own path in the music industry. Her independently released 1992 debut Infamous Angel garnered such palpable buzz that it landed her a deal with Warner Bros. the following year without any support from mainstream country radio. Over the next two decades, DeMent never shied away from using her ethereal voice and songwriting craft to showcase introspection as well as to address more political topics such as sexual abuse, religion and government policy throughout her work.
The Hi Rhythmsection, this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist, is not your average group of musicians. During the ’70s, they served as the late producer Willie Mitchell’s secret weapon for his vision of Memphis soul, providing their incomparable musicianship for hit Hi Records albums by artists like Al Green and Ann Peebles at the historic Royal Studios in Memphis, Tenn. Originally formed in the late ’60s, members include the late Mabon “Teenie” Hodges (guitar), Rev. Charles Hodges (organ), LeRoy “Flick” Hodges (bass), Howard Grimes (drums), the late Al Jackson, Jr. (drums) and Archie “Hubbie” Turner (keyboard).
Co-presented by the First Amendment Center, this year’s Spirit of Americana Free Speech in Music Award will be presented to Graham Nash. A two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee for his roles as a member of the Hollies and supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash (and later Young), the GRAMMY® Award-winning singer’s passionate voice continues to be heard in support of peace and social and environmental justice. The No Nukes/Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) concerts he organized with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt in 1979 remain seminal benefit events. In 2011, Nash was instrumental in bringing MUSE back to the forefront with a concert to benefit Japan disaster relief and groups promoting non-nuclear energy worldwide.
HighTone Records founders Larry Sloven and Bruce Bromberg are the recipients of the Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive. In the mid-’80s, these industry partners bonded over their wide-ranging roots music tastes and sought out an opportunity to create a label home for the melting pot of influences that is now Americana music. Artistic freedom was imperative to their business model from day one, and it made all the difference in providing a liberating platform for artists who have paved the way in Americana such as The Blasters, Big Sandy, Buddy Miller and more. For 25 years, HighTone Records produced 300 album releases and a number of landmark achievements including the release of the first and longest running #1 Americana Radio Airplay album, Tulare Dust: A Songwriter’s Tribute to Merle Haggard, and even a GRAMMY® Award for Dale Alvin’s King of California.
Van Morrison will be receiving the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, as previously announced. After establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in his British R&B group Them in the late ’60s, the six-time GRAMMY® Award winner’s unparalleled songwriting talents and evocative vocal delivery have pioneered his legendary career spanning over four decades. From the Sinatra-like soul of Moondance to the country-inflected Tupelo Honey, Morrison’s myriad of influences are equally matched by his consistency as an artist, leading his work to transcend generations upon generations to come.
“We are proud and humbled to honor these artists whose work has shaped what we not only call Americana today but the musical landscape on the whole,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association℠. “We are inspired by their work and excited to see them all as they will honor us in song at the Ryman this fall.”
A live audio simulcast of the show will also be available via SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country and on Nashville area terrestrial radio stations: WRLT (100.1 FM), WSM (650 AM) and WMOT (89.5 FM). Performance highlights courtesy of Austin City Limits for a special broadcast will also be aired November 19th on PBS.
Described by Emmylou Harris as “the shining star of Nashville and music everywhere,” the Americana Honors and Awards show has been broadcast in the past on AXS TV, PBS, and via SiriusXM Radio, BBC2, WMOT, WRLT, WSM, Voice of America and npr.org. The show has featured many amazing moments in musical history including Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash’s last live performance together, as well as show-stopping appearances by Bob Weir, George Strait, Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Gregg Allman, The Avett Brothers, Solomon Burke, Rosanne Cash, Civil Wars, Dr. John with Dan Auerbach, Patty Griffin, Levon Helm, Robert Plant and many more. Tickets for the Americana Honors & Awards are available for purchase by conference registrants of the weeklong event.