Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway Win at 2024 International Folk Music Awards: Full Winners List – Billboard

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Less than three weeks after winning the Grammy for best bluegrass album for City of Gold, Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway won album of the year for that same Nonesuch release at the 2024 International Folk Music Awards. The awards were presented at the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday (Feb. 21), which was the first day of the Folk Alliance International (FAI) Conference. The event, now in its 36th year, continues through Sunday (Feb. 25).

Tuttle, who won in the same category last year for Crooked Tree, accepted her award remotely, saying, “I feel so lucky to be part of this folk music community. I draw so much inspiration from the folk tradition when I was writing this album. I imagined these songs being played by folks around the campfire. Music really is my City of Gold.”

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Billy Strings won entertainer of the year. “I’m incredibly honored,” he said. “The fact that my name even comes up in conversation with the other nominees just blows my mind. I made so many great friends at FAI in 2013-14 when I was ripping showcases and pickin’ all up and down them hallways and hotel rooms. I’d like to say thanks to Folk Alliance for giving us artists a place to come together and make lifelong friends, showcase our music, bump elbows, meet the right people, and start to grow our careers in an organic and natural way.”

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Strings, who won a Grammy for best bluegrass album three years ago, has spent nearly a year atop Billboard’s Bluegrass Albums chart combining the runs of three of his albums – Home (25 weeks at No. 1), Renewal (nine weeks) and Me/And/Dad (16 weeks). In addition, all three albums received Grammy nominations for best bluegrass album. Home won.

“Workin’ on a World,” written and performed by Iris Dement, won the International Folk Music Award for song of the year.

Tracy Chapman, whose 1988 song “Fast Car” became a pop and country smash in 2023 for Luke Combs, received a lifetime achievement award. Joy Clark performed Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” in tribute.

Other lifetime achievement award recipients were the late Chilean songwriter and activist Víctor Jara and McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California, which has been hosting concerts in Southern California for more than 50 years.

Alynda Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff received The People’s Voice Award, which is presented to an individual who “unabashedly embraces social and political commentary in their creative work and public careers.”

“I started writing songs as a way to have power in this world,” Segarra said in accepting the award. “I started a band to create a family. Since my first days playing music on the street in New Orleans, I’ve turned to the mysteries of songwriting to document, honor, and defend the people on the outskirts of society. Folk music drew me in because it tells the truth, it disgraces the warmongers, and it defends the innocent. It’s been enlivening to watch folk music become more visibly queer and radical.”

The Rising Tide Award went to Guatemalan songwriter, vocalist and activist Sara Curruchich, who is the first musician to use the Kaqchikel language of her people in popular music for an international audience.

“Being the first Maya singer-songwriter to be recognized with this prestigious award is a dream come true,” Curruchich said in accepting her award. “This award not only represents a personal achievement but is also a step and a testament to the diversity and richness that we, as indigenous artists, bring.”

The Clearwater Award, presented to a festival that prioritizes environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in sustainable event production, went to LEAF Global Arts Festival.

The Spirit of Folk Awards went to Lead Belly Estate’s Terika Dean; Amanda Rheaume, an artist from the Métis Nation of Ontario, Canada; Jim Fleming, founder of the booking agency Fleming Artists; and FAI’s conference director Jerod Rivers.

Newly minted Folk Radio Hall of Famers include Folk Alley’s Linda Fahey; roots music and folk expert Jan Vanderhorst, host of “Just Us Folk,” Mountain Stage founder Larry Groce; Bob Sherman, whose “Woody’s Children” show graced New York City’s airwaves for nearly 55 years; and Celtic music ambassador Brian O’Donovan.

Other performances included The Steel Wheels (also the house band), Kaia Kater singing Odetta’s “Moving It On”; Latin Grammy winner Mireya Ramos singing Victor Jara’s “Manifiesto,” which was first released in 1974, shortly after Jara’s death; and Willie Watson and Malena Cadiz (McCabe’s tribute).

NPR Music and World Cafe live-streamed the awards show.

In a sad sign of the times, a moment of silence was observed at the outset of the evening to acknowledge the shooting that happened across the street at last week’s Super Bowl victory celebration event in Kansas City.

Folk Alliance International interim director Jennifer Roe announced from the stage that next year’s conference will take place Feb. 19-23, 2025, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada at the Queens Elizabeth Hotel, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded “Give Peace a Chance.”

Here are the finalists for the Best of 2023 awards, with winners marked:

Album of the year

Amatssou – Tinariwen (Wedge Records)

WINNER: City of Gold – Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway (Nonesuch)

False Lankum – Lankum (Rough Trade)

Stand in the Joy – William Prince (Six Shooter Records)

Welcome to Whatever – Rainbow Girls (self-release)

Artist of the year

WINNER: Billy Strings

Digging Roots

Gaby Moreno

Nickel Creek

Madi Diaz

Song of the Year

“Changes,” written by Joy Oladokun & Dan Wilson, performed by Joy Oladokun

“Keep It on a Burner,” written and performed by Margo Cilker

“Tears Run Dry,” written by Abraham Alexander, Ian Barter, Leo Stannard, performed by Abraham Alexander

“The Returner,” written by Allison Russell, Drew Lindsay, & JT Nero, performed by Allison Russell

WINNER: “Workin’ on a World,” written and performed by Iris Dement

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