A clean sweep by a female supergroup and a sentimental posthumous award were the headlines from the delayed Americana Music Association (AMA) Awards announced on December 15.
Supergroup The Highwomen – Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires - swept all three awards for which they were nominated. They collected Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Duo/Group of the Year honours.
Late legendary singer-songwriter John Prine, who died in April of Covid-19 complications, was named Artist of the Year for the third time in four years. He was the first artist in the awards 19-year history to be nominated posthumously in this category.
The other winners in the annual awards were Black Pumas, a soul duo from Texas, who won Emerging Act of the Year, and Hawktail fiddle player Brittany Haas who scored Instrumentalist of the Year.
Prine first won the Americana Artist of the Year title in 2005 and repeated in 2017 and 2018, the latter following the critical success of his final album The Tree of Forgiveness which also produced the 2019 Americana Song of the Year “Summer’s End.” He also recently received a Grammy nomination for his posthumous single “I Remember Everything.”
There was intense criticism when he was recently ignored at the 2020 Country Music Association (CMA) awards and he was odds-on to be recognised this year by the AMA.
The Highwomen, a multi-genre combination, were also mostly ignored at both the CMA and Grammy awards in spite of their 2019 self-titled album reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s country album chart. Their Song of the Year “Crowded Table,” was written by Carlile, Hemby and Lori McKenna.
"Um, completely floored and trying to process the news of this," the all-star quartet posted on Twitter.
The Awards are usually announced at a major ceremony in the Ryman Auditorium each September at Nashville’s annual AmericanaFest, but this was cancelled this year due to the Coronavirus. Instead the awards recipients were announced via social media.
“Although we terribly miss celebrating together at the Ryman as we usually have in years past, we’re thrilled to still be able to recognize these distinguished members of our community,” Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the AMA, said in a statement.
2020 Americana Honors & Awards Winners:
Album of the Year: The Highwomen, The Highwomen, produced by Dave Cobb
Artist of the Year: John Prine
Song of the Year: “Crowded Table,” The Highwomen, written by Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Lori McKenna
Duo/Group of the Year: The Highwomen
Emerging Act of the Year: Black Pumas
Instrumentalist of the Year: Brittany Haas