On June 18, the American Association of Independent Music will host a different kind of Libera Awards this year — its annual event honoring independent artists — but that doesn’t prevent a stellar lineup of performers. The event, which will be an online awards show in partnership with Sweet Relief, will feature rapper and former Fugees member Wyclef Jean, hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, Colombian indie rockers Salt Cathedral, masked country singer Orville Peck (now a Columbia Recording artist), folk rockers Y La Bamba, alternative-leaning violinist-vocalist Sudan Archives, and Australiain singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin.
Punk rock pioneer Alejandro Escovedo and electronic music artist Suzanne Ciani will perform; in addition, both will be honored with this year’s Independent Icon Award.
Legendary singer-songwriter John Prine, who died in April due to complications from coronavirus, was also scheduled to perform and be honored with the Independent Icon Award; presumably he will be presented with the award posthumously.
The show will be open to the public as a live stream, no ticket purchase required. It will also function as a fundraiser for artists, musicians, crew, and small labels experiencing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus crisis. Sweet Relief will serve as A2IM’s official charity partner for the event, donating 100% of proceeds raised during the show to career musicians and music industry professionals in need.
The evening will be hosted by actor-comedian Chris Gethard, who hosted last year as well. This year’s Awards will also feature special screenings of two recorded performances: one by Grammy nominees Big Thief, as well as British rockers Idles, recorded live at Le Bataclan in Paris.
Sire Records co-founder Seymour Stein will receive the 2020 A2IM Lifetime Achievement Award. An immeasurable influence on the world of independent music, Stein signed or licensed many of the legendary bands that ushered in the new wave and alternative-music movements spanning the 1970s through the 1990s, including the Talking Heads, the Ramones, the Pretenders, the Smiths, Depeche Mode and many others. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. The award will be presented by Lyor Cohen, global head of music at YouTube and former CEO of Warner Music Group.
The A2IM Libera Awards are made possible by the support of its sponsors including SoundExchange, Merlin, ADA, Ingrooves, Qobuz, Spotify and The Orchard.
Each year, the A2IM Libera Awards serve as the culmination of A2IM’s Indie Week, an international conference that brings together leaders and visionaries from the independent music world for a powerful lineup of keynotes, workshops, one on one meetings, and panels. Like the A2IM Libera Awards, this year’s A2IM Indie Week will take place as a virtual event, safely bringing together music trailblazers, leaders, and luminaries from around the world.
“The 2020 A2IM Libera Awards serve as a dual celebration for A2IM: one that applauds the extraordinary talent and individualism of so many artists, labels, and independent champions, as well as the commemoration of 15 years of A2IM and all that our family of independents worked so hard to accomplish,” said A2IM CEO Richard James Burgess. “Independent music has its own distinct ethos and the Libera Awards is the perfect showcase for that creative and business commonality. Independent market share has increased by a double digit percentage over A2IM’s 15 year history and the A2IM team is energized and excited for the next fifteen years of growth.”
The 2020 A2IM Libera Awards will stream on Twitch, Facebook and YouTube, and on the official A2IM website, liberaawards.com.