The power of two voices raised in harmony was on display Wednesday night at the Americana Music Honors & Awards as Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell and the husband-wife duo Shovels & Rope earned top honors.
Each duo won two awards during the annual roots rock celebration at Ryman Auditorium. Old friends Harris and Crowell won album of the year for their collaboration “Old Yellow Moon,” and duo-group of the year. And Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent of Shovels & Rope won song of the year for “Birmingham” and emerging artist of the year.
“Old Yellow Moon” was the most recent collaboration in a 40-year friendship between Crowell and Harris, who met in the mid-1970s when Crowell wrote songs for the Country Music Hall of Fame member and joined her band.
“Rodney and I, maybe we’re just arrogant, but we feel like we were Americana before it got a name,” Harris told the crowd.
First-time nominees Hearst and Trent, from Charleston, S.C., performed “Birmingham” for the crowd, and later seemed stunned by their win – which came over The Lumineers’ omnipresent hit “Ho Hey.”
“Whoooaaa,” Trent said before thanking his parents for making the trip down from Michigan. “Our minds are blown,” Hearst said. “The mind that we share has exploded.”
Dwight Yoakam, whose album “3 Pears” was heralded in the roots music community, won top honor artist of the year. And multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell was named instrumentalist of the year.
Old Crow Medicine Show won the Trailblazer Award a day after being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Stephen Stills received the Spirit of Americana Freedom of Speech award.
The Americana Music Association honored Duane Eddy, Dr. John, songwriter Robert Hunter and Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz with lifetime achievement awards. The AMA also recognized Hank Williams with the President’s Award, which was accepted by Williams’ daughter, Jett Williams, and his granddaughter, Holly Williams.
“Hank would have been 90 yesterday and it was just bizarre sitting here in an empty Ryman during soundcheck and singing his songs so many years later,” Holly Williams told the crowd.
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