The 17th annual Americana Honors & Awards exhibited its power to unify music folks of all tastes together for one night at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium to celebrate what a blessing it is to give voice to the truths of the world through song.
An all-star house band led by Buddy Miller and comprising of revered musicians Don Was, Jerry Pentecost, Joe Pisapia, Ian Fitchuk, Lillie Mae, Joshua Grange, Jim Hoke and the McCrary Sisters kicked off the night with a dynamic instrumental cover of “Chain of Fools” in tribute to the late Aretha Franklin. A series of electric performances by nominees Tyler Childers, Anderson East, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and more followed before wrapping with an ultimate show of female empowerment.
CMT filmed the all-star concert event and award ceremony for a special premiere on Nov. 28 at 9 p.m. ET. Here are our Top 5 highlights from the night.
Empowering Female MomentsErika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association
When women see other women making waves in music, it shows them they can do it, too. The Americana Music Association put this empowerment on full display with a series of inspiring performances, including Courtney Marie Andrews’ “May Your Kindness Remain” in her Ryman performance debut. New Orleans’ Queen of Soul Irma Thomas (Lifetime Achievement Award, Performance) was elegance and power personified when she delivered two rousing renditions of “Time Is On My Side.” The sound system went out in her first performance, but after a reboot, she lit up the stage again like nothing ever happened.
Rosanne CashJason Davis/Getty Images for Americana Music Association
Molly TuttleJason Davis/Getty Images for Americana Music Association
Brandi CarlileErika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association
Multiple honors for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and John Prine.Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music AssociationErika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association
A side of snarky comments from Tyler Childers.Jason Davis/Getty Images for Americana Music Association
Kentucky native Tyler Childers took home his first Americana Music Award for Emerging Artist of the Year and accepted his award by making a snarky comment about being a country singer in the Americana genre. He claimed that he felt it was a “distraction from the issues we are facing on a bigger level as country music singers. It kind of feels like ‘Purgatory.'” His latest album Purgatory was released in 2017.
Performances that reflected the times we’re living in today.Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association
Mary Gauthier and Beth Nielsen Chapman gave voice to the plight of wives of U.S. military veterans and active soldiers with “War After the War,” from Gauthier’s Rifles & Rosary Beads. Isbell and the 400 Unit’s “White Man’s World” painted a clear reflection of the gender and racial inequalities in today’s society. Anyone who walked out in discomfort over Isbell’s blatantly honest lyrics couldn’t handle the truth.
The Milk Carton Kids’ First Hosting GigErika Goldring/Getty Images for Americana Music Association
The Milk Carton Kids’ Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan have for a long time hosted the annual nominees’ announcement each spring. But this year marked their first time hosting the show. On the red carpet, Pattengale described what it means to be an Americana fan best when he said, “It’s a testament to the way people really appreciate art, which is not separated by genre, geography or class.”