Steve Earle, Mary Gauthier and Tift Merritt each earned three nominations from the Americana Music Association (AMA) for the organization’s annual awards show to be held Sept. 9 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The AMA Awards were created to recognize talented musicians whose music is hard to classify but often falls into a mix of several musical genres, such as country, bluegrass, folk, rock, soul and/or R&B.
Gauthier and Todd Snider announced the nominees on the rooftop of the BMI offices in Nashville on Thursday evening (June 16). She was nominated for album of the year (Mercy Now), new/emerging artist of the year and song of the year (“Mercy Now”). Earle, Merritt and Miller were each nominated for artist of the year, along with John Prine.
“I think it’s a wonderful community of misfits and that’s where I belong,” Gauthier told CMT.com shortly after the announcements. “I belong with the people who don’t belong. It’s a friendly community and a lot of us go against the flow, like salmon swimming upstream.”
Asked about the inspiration behind “Mercy Now,” Gauthier said, “It started out really personal, writing about my dad, who has Alzheimer’s. Then the camera started backing up, and the scene got bigger and bigger.”
In the song, Gauthier goes on to say that her brother could be shown some mercy, as well as her church and country and, finally, every living thing. The last lyric insists that, “Every single one of us could use some mercy now.”
“It got really big on me,” she said. “I’m not sure how it happened.” She added that she wrote it in 20 minutes and that “it came through me, not from me.”
The song “Mercy Now” joins Earle’s “The Revolution Starts Now,” Mark Heard’s “Worry Too Much” (recorded by Buddy Miller) and Merritt’s “Good Hearted Man” in the song category. Mercy Now lands beside Earle’s The Revolution Starts Now, Merritt’s Tambourine and Miller’s Universal United House of Prayer in the album category.
Meanwhile, Gauthier’s fellow nominees in the new/emerging artist category include Hayes Carll, the Duhks, Tom Gillam and Martha Wainwright. Instrumentalist of the year nominees are Alison Brown, Jerry Douglas, Sonny Landreth and Gurf Morlix.
Five additional awards will be presented during the ceremony: Lifetime Achievement Awards for songwriter, performer and executive; the President’s Award; and the First Amendment Center Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award.
The AMA conference will take place Sept. 8-10, 2005, in downtown Nashville.