Folk Alliance International (FAI) kicked off its 30th Annual Conference on Feb.14 with the International Folk Music Awards Show held for the first time at Kansas City’s historic Folly Theater.
The awards show, which included a live-streamed broadcast and was presented in partnership with Folk Music Canada, opened with a ceremonial land acknowledgment by Ed Smith, a leader from the Osage Nation.
The evening included celebratory reflections from FAI Executive Director Aengus Finnan, and the screening of a new 30-year retrospective short film about the organization’s history. View the photo gallery from tonight’s awards show.
Described by Rolling Stone as “pure magic to watch and hear,” three-time GRAMMY® Award nominee Ruthie Foster emceed the evening, which featured performances by Guy Davis, Giri and Uma Peters, Anais Mitchell, and The Staley Falcon Chorale. The evening ended with a full-cast finale performance of “Goodnight Irene” with the full audience singing along.
Special guest presenters during the evening included acclaimed artist John Oates, who presented the People’s Voice award, and the legendary Kingston Trio, who presented the memorial Lifetime Achievement Award to the late Richie Havens.
Throughout the evening, awards were presented for Lifetime Achievement, Spirit of Folk, and member-voted ‘Best of 2017’ (including Album, Song, and Artist of the Year). In a permanent commitment to honor the socially conscious roots of folk music, the People’s Voice and the Clearwater Awards were also awarded. Three inductions were made into the Folk DJ Hall of Fame.
A full list of award winners and recipients is below.
International Folk Music Award 2017 Winners:
*Album of the Year: Freedom Highway, Rhiannon Giddens
Sponsored by: Thirty Tigers
*Song of the Year: “You Didn’t Call My Name,” Molly Tuttle
Sponsored by: American Songwriter
*Artist of the Year: Ordinary Elephant
Sponsored by: Levitt Foundation
Spirit of Folk Awards: Kristian Blak, Richard Gillmann, Martyn Joseph, Anaïs Mitchell, Betse Siggins
The People’s Voice Award: Bonnie Raitt
The Clearwater Award: Winnipeg Folk Festival
Folk DJ Hall of Fame Inductees: Dick Pleasants, Fiona Ritchie, Mary Cliff
Lifetime Achievement Awards: Peter, Paul and Mary (Living), Richie Havens (Legacy), Elektra Records (Business/Academic)
*Finalists for the 2017 Album, Song and Artist of the Year awards are based on U.S., Canadian, and International industry year-end lists as well as Folk DJ airplay. Winners are determined by the voting membership of Folk Alliance International and the results are announced annually.