You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Brandi Carlile, John Prine Win Top Honors at Americana Awards

Brandi Carlile was crowned artist of the year while John Prine picked up trophies for album and song of the year at the 18th annual Americana Honors & Awards, held Wednesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

The other competitive awards went to I’m With Her for duo/group, the War and Treaty for emerging act and Chris Eldridge as instrumentalist of the year.

Carlile paid tribute to her competitors in the artist of the year category during her acceptance speech. “Rhiannon Giddens is one of the most important artists of this generation,” she said. “Kacey Musgraves did something new and special (with “Golden Hour”), and it’s really hard to do something new anymore.” Of Mavis Staples, whom she also faced in the category, Carlile said she was the artist of all time, not of the year: “She took a DNA test; it turns out she is 100 percent That Legend.”

Said Prine, pulling out a piece of paper in the first of his two acceptance speeches, “At the Grammys, I was up for something. We had speeches then and I still got ’em,” he quipped. The veteran singer-songwriter was accepting for the song “Summer’s End,” about the opiate crisis, and “The Tree of Forgiveness,” his return to making an album of original songs after a long layoff.

Carlile had been widely expected to win album, artist or song of the year last year, when “By the Way, I Forgive You” and its single “The Joke” were nominated. She was shut out before going on to win the Grammy for best Americana album, among other awards, months later. Americana Music Association voters weren’t about to repeat that this year, after her profile grew many times over. The org awarded her the top prize, artist of the year — the only category she was up for, since she spent the past year between recording projects.

At the Americana Honors, lifetime achievement awards are even greater in number than the competitive kudos. Previously announced awards went to Elvis Costello, Maria Muldaur, Giddens and Delbert McClinton. The show, webcast live by NPR.org, also handed out a lifetime trophy to Staples, which she’d previously won but been unable to accept in person.

Staples closed the show by leading the participants in a Staple Singers-style group-sing of the country-gospel standard “I’ll Fly Away.”

The Milk Carton Kids co-hosted for the second year and joined Mumford & Sons for a number.

The supergroup of the moment, the Highwomen, was represented by individual performances by Carlile and Amanda Shires. Milk Carton Kid Joey Ryan riffed on the attention the Highwomen have been getting by quipping, “It’s our pleasure to announce our all-new male supergroup called the Highmen,” leaving it up to the crowd how to spell that.

In accepting his lifetime achievement award, McClinton allowed that many in the audience would not have heard of him: “I’m from another time; I’m a refugee from the law of averages,” he said. The Texas blues-rocker noted that the FBI had come to his house after the assassination of John F. Kennedy because his name was in Jack Ruby’s notebook. “Every label I was on from ’74 to ’91 went out of business while I was on the label,” he pointed out, “sometimes when I had charting singles.” But now, he added, after his wife cleaned up his act, “the last 35 years have been the best years of my life. I’m sitting on top of the world, and like the man said, I did it my way.”

Giddens’ award was presented in conjunction with the National Museum of African American Music, opening near the Ryman next spring — which, as the Milk Carton Kids said, is the only development in downtown Nashville’s ongoing construction boom to not get irritated about.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Rob Thomas Sammy Hagar

    Sammy Hagar Joins Rob Thomas for 'Smooth' Performance (Watch)

    Who do you call when your pal Carlos Santana has plans on a Friday night? If you’re Rob Thomas, you recruit another famous friend, rocker Sammy Hagar, who turned up to help the singer close out the latest show of his Chip Tooth Smile tour with a performance of “Smooth” at the Fox Performing Arts [...]

  • US record producer The-Dream arrives for

    Top Music Publishers Come Together for Songs of Hope Honors

    The 15th annual Songs of Hope honors united songwriters, music industry insiders and more than a few preeminent doctors at producer Alex Da Kid’s Sherman Oaks compound on Thursday night. Jimmy Jam returned to host the event, which served as a fundraiser for the ever-vital City of Hope medical treatment center as well as a [...]

  • Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Takes Beatles' 'White Album'

    Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Gets Back to '68 by Touring Beatles' 'White Album'

    The 50th anniversary re-release of 1969’s “Abbey Road” may be just days away, but that doesn’t mean Beatles fans have been there and done that when it comes to celebrating ’68. Todd Rundgren, the Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz, Badfinger’s Joey Molland and several other name musicians of a certain vintage are teaming up to go out [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content