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Molly Meets Joni at the Grammys

At 80, Joni Mitchell performs at the Grammy Awards for the first time

While all the hype at the 2024 Grammy Awards may have surrounded Taylor Swift and/or Barbie songs, there was a wonderful moment - lost on many observers - involving two Americana artists at the opposite ends of their career and, indeed, life.

It came outside of prime time when 31-year-old rising bluegrass star Molly Tuttle was asked to present the Best Folk Album Grammy to 80-year-old legend Joni Mitchell.

 Despite their 49-year age difference, the two women have much in common.

They are both multiple Grammy winners. Mitchell has now collected 10 and this year Tuttle won her second consecutive Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album. They are both singer-songwriters and talented flatpicking instrumentalists. Mitchell was in her early twenties when she wrote her classic “Both Sides Now” – a song she performed on the night – and Tuttle was also in her twenties when she started churning out inventive compositions like “Crooked Tree.”


Tuttle made history at last year’s Grammy by becoming the first bluegrass artist nominated for the all-genre Best New Artist Award. She did not win, but was compensated by collecting the Best Bluegrass Album, along with her band Golden Highway, for their lauded 2022 release Crooked Tree. Their win again this year was for the follow-up album City of Gold.

It has been a remarkable 18 months for Tuttle. Besides the Grammy-winning albums, she and Golden Highway toured across the U.S. to sold-out venues and last month Tuttle received five-star reviews when she toured Britain with guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel. And to top it all off, last year Rolling Stone included her – at number 222 – in their list of 250 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. This was a wonderful achievement, given her relatively young age and the general lack of recognition for her flatpicking, clawhammer instrumental prowess.  One of her mentors, Tony Rice – the man they call the Jimi Hendrix of bluegrass –  did not even make the list.

Despite such accolades, for some inexplicable reason, the Americana Music Association last year snubbed Tuttle at their annual music awards. Though her 2023 Grammy accolades fitted into the awards time-frame, she received no nominations in any category, including Artist of the Year. Can they afford to ignore her this year?

Brandi Carlile increased her Americana profile by joining Mitchell in a seated group onstage at the Grammys. Carlile has been among a group of musical accompanists who have supported Mitchell’s comeback from  a brain aneurysm in 2015. Carlile also collected a Grammy, along with Brandy Clark, for Best Americana Performance on “Dear Insecurity.”

Jason Isbell, an Americana artist whose career sits firmly between Mitchell and Tuttle, took his Grammy tally to six when he and his band, the 400 Unit, won the Best Americana Album with Weathervanes and Best American Roots Song for “Cast Iron Skillet.”

Another winner of two Grammys was the popular Country/Americana crossover artist Chris Stapleton who took both the prestigious Best Country Song and Best Country performance Grammys with “White Horse.”


Americana/Roots/Country 2024 Grammy Winners:

Best Americana Album: Weathervanes — Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Best Americana Performance:  "Dear Insecurity" — Brandy Clark feat. Brandi Carlile

Best American Roots Song: "Cast Iron Skillet" — Jason Isbell (songwriter)

Best Bluegrass Album: City of Gold — Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway

Best American Roots Performance: "Eve Was Black" — Allison Russell

Best Folk Album: Joni Mitchell at Newport [Live] — Joni Mitchell

Best Country Solo Performance: "White Horse" — Chris Stapleton

Best Country Duo/Group Performance: "I Remember Everything" — Zach Bryan feat. Kacey Musgraves

Best Country Song: "White Horse" — Chris Stapleton (songwriters Chris Stapleton and Dan Wilson)

Best Country Album: Bell Bottom Country — Lainey Wilson

Best Traditional Blues Album: All My Love for You — Bobby Rush

Best Contemporary Blues Album: Blood Harmony — Larkin Poe

Best Regional Roots Music Album: New Beginnings -  Buckwheat Zydeco Jr. and the Legendary Ils Sont Partis Band

Best Roots Gospel Album: Echoes of the South – Blind Boys of Alabama


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