The Highwomen were the big winners at the 19th annual Americana Honors & Awards, which were announced on the Americana Music Association’s social media channels Tuesday (Dec. 15) instead of at their usual celebration at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
The Highwomen swept three of the six membership-voted awards: album of the year for their eponymous debut; song of the year for “Crowded Table,” written by group members Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby with top songwriter Lori McKenna; and duo/group of the year. Maren Morris and Amanda Shires round out the all-star quartet.
Dave Cobb produced The Highwomen’s album. This is the fifth time in the past seven years that Cobb has produced the winner in this category. He also produced John Prine’s final studio album The Tree of Forgiveness, which won last year, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s The Nashville Sound, which won two years ago. Before that, he produced Isbell’s solo albums Something More Than Free (the 2016 winner) and Southeastern (2014).
Prine, who died in April 2020 at age 73, won artist of the year for a record fourth time. He previously won in 2005, 2017 and 2018. Prine was the first artist to be nominated posthumously in this category, much less to win. Prine won a 2003 Americana lifetime achievement award for songwriting.
Black Pumas won emerging act of the year. The duo has multiple Grammy nominations this year, including album of the year for the deluxe edition of their debut, Black Pumas, and record of the year for “Colors.” The duo was Grammy-nominated for best new artist a year ago.
Fiddle player Brittany Haas won the award for instrumentalist of the year. A member of the quartet Hawktail, Haas has also collaborated with such artists as Steve Martin, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn. This is the third time in the past five years that a female musician has won instrumentalist of the year. Molly Tuttle, a guitarist, won in 2018. Fiddle player Sara Watkins won in 2016.
“I could not be more proud of this slate of winners,” said Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association, in a statement. “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.”
NPR Music’s World Café, SiriusXM Outlaw Country, Gimme Country and various radio stations will celebrate this year’s nominees and winners with special programming.
Here are the 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
For more information, visit AmericanaMusic.org.