Country singer and songwriter Chris Stapleton, whose 2015 album, Traveller, became a breakaway platinum hit, took home artist of the year.
Stapleton said that before his successful solo country career took off, he wished he could play the Americana award show.
"I used to play in a little bluegrass band called the SteelDrivers," he said. "We were just starting out, and we would beg and beg and beg to do something. So to be here tonight means a great deal to me."
The emerging artist of the year award went to Margo Price, who sounds like rock version of Loretta Lynn with her hard-livin' lyrics on her critically acclaimed debut album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter.
Price spent years trying to shop her music to Music City's major labels and finally found a home at rocker Jack White's label, Third Man Records. She thanked her family, "my in-laws, my outlaws, some of the people that passed on my record, who may be here."
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell won for duo/group of the year, and fiddler Sara Watkins won the instrumentalist of the year.
After British singer Billy Bragg received the spirit of Americana free speech in music award, he thanked Nashville for its generosity to "wayward Englishmen."
"Not only did you let Tom Hiddleston go out with Taylor Swift, you let him stand on this very stage and impersonate Hank Williams," Bragg joked of Hiddleston's role in the Williams biopic I Saw the Light.
Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir got a standing ovation after receiving the lifetime achievement award for performance, while soul songwriter William Bell received the lifetime achievement award for songwriting and sang a duet with Bonnie Raitt.
Grammy-winning folk singer Shawn Colvin received the trailblazer award, and the president's award went to the late folk singer-songwriter Woodie Guthrie.
Jim Lauderdale, the longtime award-show host, choked up after he was given the WagonMaster award by country legend George Strait, who has recorded several of Lauderdale's songs. The two performed a rousing rendition of "King of Broken Hearts."
Americana Music Honors & Awards 2016 Winners:
Album of the Year: Something More Than Free, Jason Isbell, Produced by Dave Cobb
Artist of the Year: Chris Stapleton
Group/Duo of the Year: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
Song of the Year: “24 Frames,” Jason Isbell
Emerging Artist of the Year: Margo Price
Instrumentalist of the Year: Sara Watkins
Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award: Billy Bragg
Lifetime Achievement Award, Trailblazer: Shawn Colvin
Lifetime Achievement Award, Songwriting: William Bell
Lifetime Achievement Award, Performance: Bob Weir
Lifetime Achievement Award, WagonMaster: Jim Lauderdale
President's Award: Woody Guthrie