Janis Ian will receive a lifetime achievement award at the International Folk Music Awards, which will be held at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Feb. 1 – the opening night of the Folk Alliance International’s 35th annual conference.
Ian is also nominated for artist of the year at the awards show, along with Aoife O’Donovan, Jake Blount, Leyla McCalla and Prateek Kuhad.
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Ian, 77, is a two-time Grammy winner. She won the 1975 award for best pop vocal performance, female for her coming-of-age classic “At Seventeen” and the 2012 award for best spoken word album for Society’s Child: My Autobiography. She received her 10th Grammy nomination this year for best folk album for The Light at the End of the Line. The nod comes 55 years after Ian’s first Grammy nomination (best folk performance) for 1967’s Janis Ian.
The Folk Alliance International bestows three lifetime achievement award each year. Ian is set to receive the award for a living artist. Josh White, who died in 1969 at age 55, will receive the award for a legacy artist. Oh Boy Records, which was founded in 1981 by John Prine, Al Bunetta and Dan Einstein, all now deceased, will receive the business/academic award.
O’Donovan, McCalla and Anaïs Mitchell, who won a Tony and a Grammy for her work on the musical Hadestown, are each nominated in two of the three competitive categories – album, artist and song of the year. Nominations in those categories are based on U.S., Canadian, and international industry year-end lists as well as folk radio airplay. Winners will be determined by the voting membership of the Folk Alliance International. Voting is open until Jan. 17.
Two of the nominees for album of the year are also nominated for album awards at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 5. Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway’s Crooked Tree is up for best bluegrass album at the Grammys. Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder’s Get on Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, is Grammy-nominated for best traditional blues album.
McCalla is also set to receive the People’s Voice Award, which 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) and Ani DiFranco (2020).
Alisa Amador will receive The Rising Tide Award, which was launched in 2021 to celebrate an artist under 30 who “inspires others by embodying the values and ideals of the folk community through their creative work, community role, and public voice.”
Shambala Festival, a four-day contemporary performing arts festival in Northamptonshire, England, will receive the Clearwater Award, which is presented to a festival that “prioritizes environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in sustainable event production.”
Appearances at the ceremony are confirmed by McCalla; keynote speaker Valerie June; The Milk Carton Kids; and 2012 Mercury Prize nominee Sam Lee.
Presenters will include author and NPR Music critic Ann Powers, NPR Alt.Latino’s Catalina Maria Johnson, Ashley Shabankareh, Chris Porter, Sara Leishman, Ayappa Biddanda, Reid Wick, Michael Kornfeld, Laura Thomas and Brandi Waller Pace. All are members of the board of directors of Folk Alliance International.
The organization, based in Kansas City, Mo., was founded in 1989. Today it has more than 3,000 members — artists, agents, managers, labels, publicists, arts administrators, venues, festivals, and concert series presenters.
The organization defines folk broadly as “the music of the people” and programs a diverse array of sub genres including Appalachian, Americana, blues, bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, global roots, hip-hop, old-time, singer-songwriter, spoken word, traditional, zydeco, and various fusions.
Here are the nominees in competitive categories as well as the recipients of honorary awards:
Album of the year
Anais Mitchell, Anais Mitchell
Crooked Tree, Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway
Get on Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder
Marchita, Silvana Estrada
Queen Of Sheba, Angélique Kidjo & Ibrahim Maalouf
Artist of the year
Song of the year
“Udhero Na,” written by Arooj Aftab, performed by Arooj Aftab and Anoushka Shankar
“Dodinin,” words written by Atis Indepandan; music by Atis Indepandan, adapted from slave song, performed by Leyla McCalla
“Bright Star,” written and performed by Anais Mitchell
“How,” written by Marcus Mumford and Brandi Carlile, performed by Marcus Mumford featuring Brandi Carlile
“B61,” written and performed by Aoife O’Donovan
The Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards: Janis Ian (living), Josh White (legacy), Oh Boy Records (business/academic)
The People’s Voice Award: Leyla McCalla
The Rising Tide Award: Alisa Amador
The Clearwater Award: Shambala Festival
The Spirit of Folk Awards: Steve Edge, Amy Reitnouer Jacobs, Marcy Marxer, Adrian Sabogal, Pat Mitchell Worley
The Folk DJ Hall of Fame: Robert Resnik, Marilyn Rea Beyer, John Platt, Harry B. Soria Jr.