Ninth Annual IFMAS Crown Lifetime Achievement Award Winners Janis Ian, Josh White, & Oh Boy Records
Kansas City, MO, USA (February 2, 2023) – Folk Alliance International (FAI), the foremost global nonprofit for folk music, presented this year’s International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs) last night on the opening night of FAI’s 35th annual conference. The IFMAs were broadcast online (OK to share).
Press photos of the ceremony and performances are here.
The following are the winners for the 2022 Album, Artist, and Song of the Year, including ten-time GRAMMY nominee Janis Ian, Hadestown musical visionary Anaïs Mitchell; 2023 GRAMMY nominee Molly Tuttle; Newport Folk Fest alum and GRAMMY Award-winning songwriter Aoife O’Donovan, who has appeared this year on CBS Saturday Morning, Kelly Clarkson Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Album of the Year (sponsored by Rounder Records)
Crooked Tree by Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway
Artist of the Year
Song of the Year (sponsored by Sound Royalties) (tie):
“Bright Star” written and performed by Anaïs Mitchell
“B61” written and performed by Aoife O’Donovan
FAI’s new Executive Director Neeta Ragoowansi, in speaking of the new vision for the organization on stage at the IFMAs, said, “We are a group of cultural leaders and influencers – changing and inspiring the world in our own unique way… I look forward to building and expanding this organization and our community into a cohesive global network that allows us to tap into each other, help each other, create together, learn from each other. As you learn, you progress… Your future journey with FAI will be interesting, adventurous at times, meaningful, purposeful — you will grow here, you will learn here, you will find beauty here.”
Ragoowansi then presented the People’s Voice award to Leyla McCalla. McCalla in her acceptance speech said, “I am so incredibly grateful to this wonderful community, this exceptionally nurturing, loving community here at FA. This award is extremely life-affirming… Imagination is our currency. We cannot create the world that we want to live in or the change that we want to see unless we can imagine it. We live in a capitalist, neo-colonialist society that seeks to stifle our imaginations and the work that we do as artists is the active undoing of this conditioning. I truly believe that this is some of the most critical healing work of our society. so this recognition that I’m receiving today is also a reflection of the inspiration that I’ve gained from this community.”
The ceremony also included Guatemalan singer-songwriter and MTV Millennial Award-winner Sara Curruchich performing “Mujer Indígena”; tributes to Janis Ian by Jake Blount, and Wallis Bird with Sam Lee and Jayme Stone; Leyla McCalla performing Josh White’s “I Gave My Love A Cherry (The Riddle Song)” and Josh White, Jr. performing his dad’s “One Meatball”; with a John Prine salute of the Milk Carton Kids doing “That’s What Way The World Goes Round.” Iris DeMent said, “like everybody else here, John touched my life in a big way,” in introducing her unannounced, surprise rendition of “Mexican Home” with the Milk Carton Kids to close the night.
During the Awards, Molly Tuttle said, “Folk Alliance International, you’ve done so much for me and musicians like me.”
Aoife O’Donovan said, in accepting her award, “Folk Alliance is such a special thing for so many members of this gigantic, incredible folk community… I first went in 2003 in San Diego with my band Crooked Still and it was utterly life changing.”
The Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented each year to honor the cultural impact of legendary folk music figures: one Living, one Legacy, and one Business/Academic. This year’s honorees were Janis Ian, whose fives decades in music are “marked by literary lyrics, social activism and major hits” (NY Times); the “master” (NY Times) blues, jazz, and folksinger and activist Josh White; and John Prine-founded Oh Boy Records, which celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year.
Josh White, Jr. tried to hold back tears, saying on stage, of his father, “I performed with him many times on stage and those stick within your heart forever.”
The People’s Voice Award is presented to an individual who unabashedly embraces social and political commentary in their creative work and public careers. Past recipients include Jason Mraz (2022), Jackson Browne (2021), Ani DiFranco (2020), and more. As an artist, People’s Voice Award recipient Leyla McCalla has always traveled through time and space, opening the channels between lost or hidden touchstones of roots music and the present day. As a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Our Native Daughters and in her solo work, the multi-instrumentalist and composer bring immediacy to long lost stories and shows how they survive and adapt through the flexible agents of rhythm, language, and intimate human connection. Her work is political and warmly welcoming, cerebral, and highly danceable. Based in New Orleans, LA after growing up in a Haitian family in New York, NY, McCalla makes music that adds detail to music’s maps and gives voice to people whose struggles and triumphs define its diasporic evolution. In 2022 she released the album Breaking the Thermometer, the culmination of her most complex project yet — a multimedia performance telling the story of the first independent radio station in Haiti. Breaking the Thermometer made best of 2022 lists at NPR Music, PopMatters, and Mojo, in addition to former President Barack Obama’s list of favorite music for 2022.
The Rising Tide Award was launched in 2021 to celebrate a new generation (under 30) artist who inspires others by embodying the values and ideals of the folk community through their creative work, community role, and public voice. Award recipient Alisa Amador points folk music toward its future — a future that’s cosmopolitan, multifaceted, and multilingual; qualities that have in fact been at the community’s heart all along. Amador, who comes from a folk music family, grew up in Boston, MA, Maine, Puerto Rico, and Argentina, and her songs show the influence of all of those places. A native Spanish speaker who’s spent most of her life in the States, Amador moves easefully between the two languages in her songwriting. As a high schooler, she studied jazz, and is known for sometimes scatting during performances. Amador’s ability to blend all of these influences within sharply rendered yet gently flowing songs helped her win NPR Music’s prestigious Tiny Desk Contest; and Folk Artist of the Year at the Boston Music Awards.
Shambala Festival received the Clearwater Award, which is sponsored by the Levitt Foundation. The Clearwater Award is presented to a festival that prioritizes environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in sustainable event production. Shambala Festival is a four-day contemporary performing arts festival in Northamptonshire, England, UK. The festival is completely and utterly committed to being sustainable, circular, regenerative, net positive, earth- and life-respecting, and future-thinking. They have reduced the festival’s carbon footprint by over 90%; achieved 100% renewable electricity; became meat, fish, and dairy-milk free; and eradicated single-use plastics. They’ve received many awards for their sustainability work, including the Innovation Award at the 2018 UK Festival Awards, the International A Greener Festival Award, the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Creative Green Awards in 2017, and more. The festival is Creative Green Certified and has committed to measuring and transparently reporting all of its impacts to provide an honest evaluation of its efforts. They work with independent third parties like Julie’s Bicycle to assess their performance and carbon footprint.
The Spirit of Folk Awards are presented to honor and celebrate people and organizations actively involved in the promotion and preservation of folk music through their creative work, their community building, and their demonstrated leadership. The following were 2023 recipients:
Steve Edge has been presenting folk music in Vancouver as a DJ on CITR since 1985, and concerts and festivals throughout the city since 1986, initially independently, and then as a co-founder of The Rogue Folk Club in 1987 where he continues to present Celtic, folk, and roots music as its artistic director. Steve was an inaugural member of FAI in 1989, is an inductee into the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame, and a recipient of the Unsung Hero award from the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Amy Reitnouer Jacobs is the co-founder and executive director of The Bluegrass Situation, an online music magazine and promoter of roots, folk, and Americana music and culture. She joined the board of FAI in 2015 and was instrumental in refining and codifying the recruitment process for board elections as chair of the Nominations Committee. Amy served as board president through the pandemic, and supported FAI’s recent strategic plan and executive director transition.
Marcy Marxer is the creator of All Wigged Out, a poignant and witty musical theatre production (and now film) recounting her harrowing triumph over breast cancer. Painfully funny, it is an example of the power of music and humor to inform and heal. Marxer, along with her partner Cathy Fink, is a two-time GRAMMY Award winner and eleven-time nominee, and together they have been recognized with over 60 Washington Area Music Association Awards for their folk, bluegrass, and children’s music recordings.
Adrian Sabogal is an acclaimed musician, producer, and researcher who founded Marimbea, an organization dedicated to the well-being of the Afro-Colombian communities from the country’s South Pacific coast. By arranging music-centered cultural tourism excursions, Marimbea strives to generate alternative sources of income, knowledge exchanges, and support networks for artists in marginalized and remote communities. Adrian’s work has had an impact on the economic development in the region, and the preservation of a vibrant and unique musical tradition.
Pat Mitchell Worley is the President and CEO of the Memphis-based Soulsville Foundation, which oversees the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy, and The Soulsville Charter School, all with a mission to perpetuate the soul of Stax Records. She is the long-time co-host of Beale Street Caravan, a syndicated roots radio show broadcast, and she regularly hosts artist Q&As for the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi and Oxford American. She is a former development director for the Memphis Music Foundation, and a past employee of the Blues Foundation.
The Folk DJ Hall of Fame was established to recognize radio DJs who have made an outstanding contribution to the preservation, promotion, and presentation of folk music, and who have demonstrated and inspired leadership in the broadcast field. Inducted DJs include the following:
Robert Resnik has been the host of All the Traditions, Vermont Public Radio’s folk and world music program, since 1996. Hooked on music since the 1960s, Robert previously spent many years on-air at WRUV at the University of Vermont. All the Traditions is as eclectic as Robert’s musical taste, but is dedicated to promoting music created by people living in the VPR broadcast area, which includes all of Vermont and parts of New Hampshire, New York, and Quebec. Robert also plays more than 25 instruments, and has performed and recorded CDs with a variety of musical combos for kids and adults.
Marilyn Rea Beyer hosted her first concert in junior high as the school band emcee. She got on board The Midnight Special listening to WFMT as a Chicago teenager. She has had careers in education, PR, and high tech. In 1995, Marilyn became on-air host and music director at Boston’s premiere folk station, WUMB-FM, and served on the board of the legendary Club Passim. Returning to Chicago, Marilyn joined WFMT in 2020, hosting The Midnight Special and now Folkstage. The Midnight Special launched in 1953 and maintained legendary status under Rich Warren’s stewardship. She says that judicious risk-taking, nurturing artists, and falling in love with new music make the job fun.
John Platt has hosted the Sunday Supper (formerly Sunday Breakfast) for 25 years at WFUV New York, NY and has curated On Your Radar, a monthly showcase for emerging artists at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC for 17 years. He has founded the not-for-profit New Folk Initiative, which has extensive resources for the folk community at newfolk.org. He began his career at WMMR Philadelphia in 1969, programmed WXRT Chicago and WRVR New York, worked at WNEW-FM and WNYC, and produced national radio programs.
Harry B. Soria Jr. was known as a radio personality and walking encyclopedia of Hawaiian music history. The musicologist, award-winning liner notes writer, and record producer was the son of prominent local broadcaster and songwriter Harry B. Soria Sr. Ironically, Harry B.’s interest in Hawaiian music was sparked by hearing “cool” old records far from Hawaiian shores while at college in San Francisco. Upon returning to Hawai’i, he bonded with his dad over his vintage Hawaiian records. Harry B.’s passion for music from this period led to guest spots on KCCN in 1976 and his weekly “Territorial Airwaves” radio show of recordings from his personal collection. In 2019, Territorial Airwaves became the longest running Hawaiian music show in radio history. Soria’s record collection and archives are being donated to the Hawaii State Archives.
The Awards took place at the Westin Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center in Kansas City, MO, USA. Folk Alliance International had previously announced the lineup of Official Showcase performances at the conference.
About Folk Alliance International
Folk Alliance International (FAI) was founded in 1989 to connect folk music leaders aiming to sustain the community and genre. Today FAI is the leading international voice for folk music with a network of more than 3,000 members: a worldwide community of artists, agents, managers, labels, publicists, arts administrators, venues, festivals, and concert series presenters.
From its U.S. headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, FAI produces the world’s largest conference for the folk music industry, the International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs), an Artist in Residence program, the Folk ExChange market development program, the Ethno USA gathering (on behalf of JM International), community outreach, and a Finest Folk concert series.
FAI values diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, strives to ensure gender parity in all its programming, celebrates multiple languages and cultures, and actively welcomes participation from marginalized, disenfranchised, and underrepresented communities.
FAI defines folk broadly as “the music of the people” (reflective of any community they are from), and programs a diverse array of sub genres including, but not limited to, Appalachian, Americana, Blues, Bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, Global Roots, Hip-Hop, Old-Time, Singer-Songwriter, Spoken Word, Traditional, Zydeco, and various fusions.
About Janis Ian
Janis Ian is a music icon whose songs and performances have resonated with the public for over five decades. Much of her music has poignantly focused on social issues, as Ian is a pioneer of both confessional singer-songwriters’ music and social protest. Her first hit, “Society’s Child” — written when she was just fourteen — spoke empathetically about interracial romance, and her indelible song “At Seventeen” remains the anthem for “ugly duckling girls” maligned by false beauty standards. Her music defies easy categorization, with albums like Stars and Between the Lines becoming classics in both the adult contemporary and folk rock idioms. Ian was also a pioneer of artist-run labels with her Rude Girl Records and, after coming out with her groundbreaking 1993 album Breaking Silence, she’s been a beacon for LGBTQIA+ awareness in the folk community. Ian has just retired from performing, making this the perfect time to honor this living legend.
About Josh White
Josh White was an immensely talented guitarist and singer who had a prolific and greatly influential output of Piedmont and country blues music over a 40-year span. He was the most popular and influential Black folk singer of the 1930s and 1940s and one of the most prominent Black celebrities in any field. Originally a blues artist slotted into the “race records” category, he became a major star through his appearances at New York’s Café Society, on Broadway, and in films. He was the first Black singer to give a White House command performance (1941), to perform in previously segregated hotels (1942), to get a million-selling record (“One Meatball”, 1944), and the first to make a solo concert tour of America (1945). White had a profound influence musically on hundreds of artists of different genres. In particular, his songs of social protest, which were grounded in personal experience growing up in Jim Crow South Carolina, had a huge impact not only on performers like Harry Belafonte and Odetta, but on politicians like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was inspired by White to begin exploring how to desegregate the U.S. armed forces. Often overlooked in histories of folk music due both to his cabaret-singer style and his decision to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s — though he did not name anyone as a Communist — White nonetheless remains a titan of not only folk music but American culture in general.
About Oh Boy Records
Oh Boy Records was founded by the late John Prine, Al Bunetta, and Dan Einstein in 1980 when, after moving to Nashville, Prine decided he wanted to be a genuinely independent artist. It’s rare that an artist-founded record label becomes iconic, but Oh Boy arguably did as it not only was a main marketing vehicle for most of John Prine’s recordings (he being one of the founders), it has also promoted and nurtured the careers of other very notable singer-songwriters such as Kris Kristofferson, Todd Snider, and Janis Ian. From the beginning, Oh Boy has evolved to be not only a powerful example of one artist taking charge of his career, but a hub for creative and independent-minded musicians in Nashville and beyond. In the 2010s the label experienced a renaissance largely through the efforts of Prine’s wife, Fiona, and son Jody Whelan, signing some of the most exciting new voices in folk and Americana music: Tré Burt, Kelsey Waldon, Arlo McKinley, and Emily Scott Robinson. Oh Boy is a strong presence in the Nashville music scene, a home for those who cannot or don’t want to play the bigger label game, and a model for anyone doing the music business thing in the 21st century.
About Anaïs Mitchell
Anaïs Mitchell is a Vermont-based singer-songwriter and the Tony and Grammy award-winning creator of the Broadway musical Hadestown. She was named to TIME’s prestigious TIME100 list in 2020, and her first book, Working On A Song – The Lyrics of Hadestown was published by Penguin/Plume in the same year. Dubbed by NPR as “one of the greatest songwriters of her generation,” Mitchell comes from the world of narrative folksong, poetry and balladry. Among her recorded works are the original 2010 studio album of Hadestown, a folk opera based on the Orpheus myth; 2012’s Young Man in America, which was described by the UK’s Independent as ‘an epic tale of American becoming’; 2013’s Child Ballads, a collaboration with Jefferson Hamer, which won a BBC Radio Two Folk Award, Bonny Light Horseman (as part of the band Bonny Light Horseman) and Anais Mitchell (2022). Mitchell has headlined shows worldwide and her music has featured in year-end best lists including NPR, Wall Street Journal, MOJO, Uncut, Guardian, Sunday Times, Observer.
Mitchell’s stage show of Hadestown, which was over a decade in the making, was first produced off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop and in Canada at Edmonton’s The Citadel, with record-breaking runs at both. In 2018 the show opened at London’s National Theatre, before transferring to Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre in April 2019. The show went on to win 8 Tony Awards, the highest of any show that season, including Best Musical and Best Score for Mitchell. The New York Times called it “inventive, beguiling and spellbinding” while Vogue declared that “Hadestown will be your new theater obsession.” If there’s a common thread in Mitchell’s work – from her earliest acoustic records to the Hadestown show – it’s that she’s as interested in the world around her as the one inside her. She has a way of tackling big themes with the same emotional intimacy most artists use to describe their inner lives. That’s perhaps why the New York Times noted that her songs “address contemporary angst with uncanny vision…. a formidable songwriting talent.”
About Molly Tuttle
One of the most compelling new voices in the roots music world, Molly Tuttle is a virtuosic multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter with a lifelong love of bluegrass, a genre the Northern California-bred artist first discovered thanks to her father (a music teacher and multi-instrumentalist) and grandfather (a banjo player whose Illinois farm she visited often throughout her childhood). On her new album Crooked Tree, Tuttle joyfully explores that rich history with bluegrass, bringing her imagination to tales of free spirits and outlaws, weed farmers and cowgirls resulting in a record that is both forward-thinking and steeped in bluegrass heritage.
About Aoife O’Donovan
Grammy award-winning songwriter and musician Aoife O’Donovan is one of the most sought-after singers and songwriters of her generation. She has released three critically-acclaimed solo albums, is co-founder of the bands I’m With Her and Crooked Still, is the featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, and spent a decade contributing to the radio variety shows “Live From Here” and “A Prairie Home Companion.”
About Leyla McCalla
Leyla McCalla finds inspiration from her past and present, whether it is her Haitian heritage or her adopted home of New Orleans, she — a bilingual multi-instrumentalist, and alumna of Grammy award-winning African-American string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops — has risen to produce a distinctive sound that reflects the union of her roots and experience. McCalla’s music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty — it vibrates with three centuries of history, yet also feels strikingly fresh, distinctive and contemporary, sonically blending New Orleans influences and Haitian rhythms, with lyrics sung in English, French and Haitian Creole. McCalla’s widely-acclaimed collaborative project, Songs of Our Native Daughters (Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell), released via Smithsonian Folkways in 2019. The album pulled influence from past sources to create a reinvented slave narrative, confronting sanitized views about America’s history of slavery, racism, and misogyny from a powerful, modern Black female perspective.
About Josh White, Jr.
In 1944, Josh White Jr. began performing alongside his legendary father Josh White, a pioneer of folk, blues, spirituals and social activism. With his father, he often shared stages with folk and blues legends Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Paul Robeson, Burl Ives, and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, in addition to other popular artists of the day, such as Frank Sinatra, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Mabel Mercer and Eartha Kitt. As a young actor, he starred in 5 Broadway plays and 50 television dramas, and was honored with a TONY Award (1949). He began his recording career in 1945, and has since recorded 25 albums, toured the world’s greatest concert stages, and starred in four TV concert specials. In the 1960s and `70s, along with Odetta, Dave Van Ronk, Richie Havens and Taj Mahal, Josh helped birth the modern acoustic folk-blues movement that spawned Tracy Chapman, Keb Mo, Guy Davis, Rory Bloch, Eric Bibb, Toshi Reagan, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Ruthie Foster. In 1980, he was named the Voice of the Peace Corps and VISTA. In 2014, Josh toured North America, Europe and Australia, giving Centennial Celebration Concerts to his father; and in 2015, Josh was featured in three special 125th Birthday Salutes to his old friend Lead Belly, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and at Carnegie Hall in New York. And, in 2016, Josh performed tribute concerts to his father on Washington’s National Mall in conjunction with the grand opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-America History and Culture, which features a display on his father. In 2019, Josh co-starred with other folk legends in the PBS-TV Centennial Tribute to Pete Seeger. Josh is a living link to 20th Century African-American history, its roots music, and the responsibility of being an artist-activist.
About Jake Blount
Jake Blount (pronounced: blunt) is an award-winning musician and scholar based in Providence, RI. He is half of the internationally touring duo Tui, a 2020 recipient of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize, and a two-time winner of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival (better known as Clifftop). A specialist in the early folk music of Black Americans, Blount is a skilled performer of spirituals, blues and string band repertoire. Blount has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Newport Folk Festival, NPR’s Tiny Desk, and numerous other venues across and beyond the United States. He has presented his scholarly work at museums and universities including the Smithsonian Institution, Berklee College of Music and Yale University. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Paste Magazine, No Depression, and NPR. His most recent album, The New Faith, is the latest installment of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings’ African American Legacy Series.
About Sara Curruchich
Sara Curruchich was born in 1993 in San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango, in a Kaqchikel community in the Guatemalan central highlands. Her people have a long tradition of art and knowledge, but also a great strength of resistance and struggle. From this account, her musical proposal is based on the collective and individual feeling of the peoples, history, memory, culture, languages and struggles combined with personal vindication. Sara Curruchich is the first indigenous Guatemalan singer-songwriter to take her songs in Kaqchikel–her mother tongue–and Spanish internationally. Her voice and her message of love, awareness, respect and defense of life in all its forms have made her a bearer of light and hope for many women and men.