The curse of the coronavirus continues to plague the music industry, with the Americana Music Association (AMA) suddenly postponing their annual awards show, just days before it was to be staged at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
The annual AmericanaFest, held each September, was cancelled months ago, but the Association decided it would go ahead with the awards in some capacity on September 16.
But less than a week before the event, AMA Executive Director Jed Hilly notified members that “it would not be safe to conduct the Americana Honors & Awards at the wonderful and historic Ryman Auditorium next Wednesday.”
Hilly added: “We've carefully evaluated safety measures both with an audience and without. It is our conclusion that if just one person walked out of the Ryman with COVID-19, we would not be able to forgive ourselves. We are making new plans to celebrate the nominees and to proclaim the winners later this fall, and we hope to have details on that shortly with an official announcement date soon.”
One option was for the AMA to tape the awards without an audience to air at an unspecified date. But proposed funding for a proper production fell through, forcing the sudden postponement.
But the substitute event for AmericanaFest - Thriving Roots: A Virtual Community Music Conference – will still take place from September 16-18. The virtual conference will feature some big names in Americana, with participation in some form by the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Brandi Carlile, Yola, Jackson Brown, Marvis Staples, Bob Weir, Emmylou Harris and Ken Burns.
Carlile and Yola are among the five performers nominated for the AMA Artist of the Year Award, the others being Tanya Tucker, Brittany Howard and John Prine, who died in April after contracting COVID-19.
To offset the huge losses the not-for-profit AMA says it has suffered due to the pandemic and the cancellation of Americana Fest, a newly created Americana Music Association Foundation has been established. The immediate aim is to fund the virtual conference and subsequent “educational initiatives to preserve the beloved art form.”