Americana Music Awards: The Winners

Lucinda Williams, Sturgill Simpson Claim Top Honors

Lucinda Williams’s Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone was named album of the year at the 2015 Americana Music Honors & Awards. Sturgill Simpson was voted artist of the year for the 14th annual ceremony held Wednesday night (Sept. 16) at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.

In addition to recognizing more recent work, the Americana Music Association also presented lifetime achievement awards to Don Henley, Ricky Skaggs, Los Lobos and the duo of Gillian Welch & David Rawlings.

A friendly reminder that there’s a hillbilly in all of us, the awards show was a three-hour plus celebration and highlight of the 6th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference, taking place through Sunday at venues throughout Nashville.

Hosting the evening with a Manuel suit as sparkling as his persona, the “King of Broken Hearts,” Jim Lauderdale provided what the Milk Carton Kids referred to as “the hair of David Carradine, the wit of Regis Philbin and the songs of Buddy Miller.”

Lauderdale’s hosting of the event ushered in electrifying performances that will air later this year on the long-running PBS series, Austin City Limits.

Lauderdale’s antics were supplemented by Buddy Miler himself and an impressive band featuring Fats Kaplin, the McCrary Sisters, Chad Cromwell, Ian Fitchuk and Little Feat founding member Bill Payne. Presenters for the awards this year featured many alum of past awards.

In addition to artist of the year, Simpson won song of the year honors for “Turtles All the Way Down.” On tour in Charlottesville, Virginia, Simpson was not present to personally accept his awards.

Simpson’s absence wasn’t the only one noticed. Posthumously honored on his 90th birthday, B.B. King was the winner of the President’s Award. Keb’ Mo’ paid a loving tribute by covering one of the legend’s signature songs, “How Blue Can You Get.”

Another highlight of the Americana Music Festival & Conference takes place Saturday at Nashville’s new Ascend Amphitheater with a concert featuring Gillian Welch, Loretta Lynn and Steve Earle and several special guests, including Tift Merritt, Eric Heywood, Nikki Lane, Valerie June and Emmy Rose Russell.

Here’s a complete list of the winners at the 2015 Americana Music Honors & Awards:

Album of the Year: Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, Lucinda Williams (produced by Williams, Tom Overby and Greg Leisz)
Artist of the Year: Sturgill Simpson
Duo/Group of the Year: The Mavericks
Song of the Year: “Turtles All The Way Down,” Sturgill Simpson
Emerging Artist of the Year: Shakey Graves
Instrumentalist of the Year: John Leventhal
Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award: Buffy Sainte-Marie
Lifetime Achievement Award, Trailblazer: Don Henley
Lifetime Achievement Award, Songwriting: Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
Lifetime Achievement Award, Instrumentalist: Ricky Skaggs
Lifetime Achievement Award, Performance: Los Lobos
President’s Award: B.B. King