NPR To Live-Stream Folk Alliance Int'l's Int'l Folk Music Awards, Which Kick Off 36th Conference

Article Contributed by Nick Loss-Eato… | Published on Tuesday, February 20, 2024

NPR’s World Café will exclusively live-stream the International Folk Music Awards tomorrow night at 7:30pm Central: HERE

Folk Alliance International (FAI), a 501(c)3 and the foremost global nonprofit for folk music, is presenting a convening of some of the music industry's leading authorities and creators to address the ability of folk music to galvanize and catalyze movements to advance our world, at its 36th Annual Conference February 21-25, 2024 in Kansas City, MO, of which the Awards are a part. FAI has confirmed the following performances at the awards: The Steel Wheels (also the house band); “star in the making” (Folk Alley) Kaia Kater; Joy Clark, whose music is “pure magic to watch and hear” (Tracy Chapman tribute); Latin GRAMMY winner Mireya Ramos (Victor Jara tribute); and founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, Willie Watson and Malena Cadiz, who “has a voice that grabs you within seconds” (NPR), (McCabe’s tribute).

FAI has confirmed the International Folk Music Award (which are part of the conference) upcoming recipients and Best of 2023 nominees as well as the conference keynote presenters. In addition to the IFMAs and presentations, over 2,000 artist showcases will also take place under one roof.

Lifetime Achievement Awards will be granted to four-time GRAMMY Award-winner, thirteen-time GRAMMY nominee, and writer of a #1 Billboard Hot Country Song chart hit, Tracy Chapman; Chilean songwriter and activist Victor Jara; and McCabe’s Guitar Shop, which has been hosting concerts in Southern California for over 50 years. (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.)

The People’s Voice Award is presented to an individual who unabashedly embraces social and political commentary in their creative work and public careers. This year’s recipient is Alynda Segarra (of Hurray For the Riff Raff, which has released nine albums).

The following are the finalists for the 2023 Album, Artist, and Song of the Year:
Album of the Year
Amatssou - Tinariwen (Wedge Records)
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 (sponsored by the Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame)
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
"Workin' On A World" written and performed by Iris Dement
Among the Album of the Year nominees are 40+ year Tuareg group Tinariwen, whose album Amatssou was named the #1 Global Music album of the year by MOJO Magazine; 2023 GRAMMY Best New Artist nominee Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway; The Guardian’s #1 album of 2023, False Lankum, by the Dublin, Ireland band; William Prince, who has opened concerts for Neil Young and did an NPR Tiny Desk Concert in 2023; and Bodega, CA trio Rainbow Girls.
Artist of the Year nominees are Billy Strings, whose most recent album Me/And/Dad hit #1 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart, #1 on the Billboard Emerging Chart, and #37 on the Billboard Top 200; Turtle Island, Canada’s Digging Roots, an electrifying husband-and-wife duo of the Anishinabe and Onkwehonwe nations and two-time JUNO Award winners; Guatemalan singer-song Gaby Moreno, who has earned four GRAMMY nominations and is based in Los Angeles; Madi Diaz, who has opened concerts for Harry Styles and about whom Rolling Stone said, “Get ready for the year of Madi”; and beloved trio Nickel Creek, consisting of Chris Thile, Sara Watkins, and Sean Watkins.
Song of the Year Nominations come for Joy Oladokun, who was profiled by CBS This Morning last year; “subtly spectacular” (Stereogum) Margo Cilker; son of Nigerian immigrants in Greece then America, Abraham Alexander, subject of an interview on NPR All Things Considered last year; the legendary Iris Dement; and longtime collaborators JT Nero and 2022 IFMA Artist of the Year Allison Russell with Drew Lindsy.
(Final nominees for Album, Artist, and Song of the Year are compiled from US, Canadian, and international “best of” annual industry and media lists in addition to the year-end Folk DJ Charts. Award winners are determined by FAI’s voting membership. Winners will be announced at the International Folk Music Awards on February 21, 2024.)
The IFMA house band will be Virginia’s The Steel Wheels, founders of the Red Wing Roots Music Festival.
All conference attendees will have access to attend the IFMAs.
For The Rising Tide Award (sponsored by Levitt Foundation), FAI will tap Guatemalan songwriter, vocalist, and activist in defense of women's and indigenous people's rights, Sara Curruchich, who is the first musician to use Kaqchikel language of her people in popular music for an international audience. 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.
FAI has also announced the recipient of the Clearwater Award, Spirit of Folk Awards, and inductees to the Folk Radio Hall of Fame. The Clearwater Award is presented to a festival that prioritizes environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in sustainable event production and this year will go to LEAF Global Arts Festival. The Spirit of Folk Awards will go to Lead Belly Estate’s Terika Dean; artist from the Métis Nation of Ontario, Amanda Rheaume; Jim Fleming, founder of the booking agency Fleming Artists; and FAI’s own Jerod Rivers, who has served in the organization for eleven years in a number of roles, presently as Conference Director. 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.
Newly minted Folk Radio Hall of Famers include Folk Alley’s Linda Fahey; forty-plus year veteran Jan Vanderhorst; Mountain Stage founder Larry Groce; Bob Sherman, whose “Woody’s Children” show graced NYC’s airwaves for nearly 55 years; and Celtic music ambassador Brian O’Donovan. The Folk Radio 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.