The Americana Music Association has chosen September 12-15, 2012 for their annual Festival & Conference, which will take place once again in Nashville, Tennessee. The announcement comes on the heels of the not for profit music association’s most successful and critically acclaimed event ever. The Americana Honors & Awards show is, according to the Wall Street Journal, “a night in which singers who can sing, players who can play, and writers who can write came together to acknowledge their debt to great, unfettered American music and renew their pledge to take it forward with honesty and integrity.”
Musical segments of the Americana Honors & Awards show will appear on PBS nationwide during a special presentation: ” ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival” beginning November 19 in the Austin City Limits timeslot.
Fueled by musical legends, the next generation of stars and music industry heavyweights, the 2011 Americana Music Association Festival and Conference, presented by Nissan, saw over 10,000 fans, over 300 performing artists and more than 1,000 music industry professionals, all of whom participated in the unparalleled four day celebration of American Roots inspired music.
The most significant increase in attendance took place at the conference portion of this year’s event, where industry professionals and artists gathered for a series of educational workshops and seminars. Peaking at over 1,130 attendees, a 25% gain over last year, registration for the conference has now increased by a staggering 35% since 2009. The 2011 Festival & Conference also stimulated a boost in new AMA memberships, with a 13% increase in members in the last 12 months. Membership now stands at 1356.
The Americana daytime conference, located primarily at the Nashville Downtown Sheraton Hotel, featured 47 unique events divided into educational panels, workshops and
musical presentations. The conference expanded it’s outreach into the Nashville community partnering with the Country Music Hall and Fame Museum, Musician’s Corner, the Tinney Contemporary Gallery, the Southern Festival of Books, the Hard Rock Cafe and the Second Fiddle.
Highlights of this year’s event included the Keynote Address from Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow, an Americana curated-lineup with Nanci Griffith headlined at Musicians Corner in Centennial Park, a gallery exhibit and performance by Steve Forbert, and a stacked panel discussion titled “Land of 1000 Dances: The Groundbreaking Sounds of Muscle Shoals,” featuring pioneering producers, songwriters and musicians who contributed to the acclaimed recordings birthed there.
By evening, the Festival portion of the annual event showcased nearly 100 of Americana’s
best acts, including a diverse mix of both legends and the next generation of stars. Attendance increased proportionately with thousands of fans and conference attendees packing houses at all five participating venues through the purchase of festival wristbands or limited general admission purchases.
The association’s capstone event, the Americana Music Honors & Awards show sold out the Ryman Auditorium for the first time in its ten-year history. The program was broadcast live on Nashville Public Television (WNPT-Channel 8), and for the first time in the event’s history, will be broadcast nationwide by PBS. “ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival” is set to air on Saturday November 19th (check your local listings).
“This year’s event reflects the growing national and international popularity of the Americana genre,” says Americana Executive Director Jed Hilly. “That artists like Gregg Allman, Robert Plant and Lucinda Williams along with industry leaders like Neil Portnow, Rich Bengloff and Michael Huppe have flown to Nashville to be a part of our community is a huge honor.” Hilly added, “What’s really exciting is the attendance of the genre’s next generation at both the festival and conference portions of our event – from the Avett Brothers to Jessica Lea Mayfield and the Civil Wars, and the hundreds of
other new artists and younger fans eager to understand the new music landscape and
experience great live music. The Americana future is bright.”
Following the enormous success of Americanfest 2011, the association will conduct its annual Board of Directors elections and will focus on increasing its already broad appeal nationally and internationally in 2012.