Janis Ian had a memorable night at the International Folk Music Awards, which were held at the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday (Feb. 1). The veteran artist received a previously announced lifetime achievement award and also won in the top competitive category, artist of the year.
Crooked Tree by Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway won album of the year. The album is nominated for a Grammy for best bluegrass album. Tuttle is also nominated for best new artist. The Grammys will be presented on Sunday Feb. 5.
There was a tie for song of the year between “Bright Star,” written and performed by Anaïs Mitchell, and “B61,” written and performed by Aoife O’Donovan. Mitchell won a Tony and a Grammy for her work on the musical Hadestown.
Jake Blount and Wallis Bird performed in tribute to Ian. Blount performed Ian’s Grammy-winning coming-of-age classic “At Seventeen.” Bird sang “Better Times Will Come.”
Ian, 71, is a two-time Grammy winner. She won the 1975 award for best pop vocal performance, female for “At Seventeen” and the 2012 award for best spoken word album for Society’s Child: My Autobiography. Ian received her 10th Grammy nomination this year for best folk album for The Light at the End of the Line.
Leyla McCalla and Josh White Jr. performed in tribute to Josh White, who received this year’s lifetime achievement award for a legacy (deceased) artist. White died in 1969 at age 55. McCalla performed “I Gave My Love a Cherry (The Riddle Song).” White Jr. sang “One Meatball.”
McCalla also received 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).
Oh Boy Records, which was founded in 1981 by John Prine, Al Bunetta and Dan Einstein, all now deceased, received the business/academic award. In tribute to Prine, the Milk Carton Kids performed “That’s the Way the World Goes ’Round,” a song from his 1978 album Bruised Orange. Iris Dement performed “Mexican Home,” a song from his 1973 album Sweet Revenge.
Sara Curruchich performed “Mujer Indígena” at the show, which was held on the opening night of the Folk Alliance International’s 35th annual conference.
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.
Alisa Amador received 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, received the Clearwater Award, which is presented to a festival that “prioritizes environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in sustainable event production.”
Here’s a complete list of winners at the 2023 International Folk Music Awards, as well as the recipients of honorary awards:
Album of the year
Anais Mitchell, Anais Mitchell
WINNER: 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
WINNER: Janis Ian
Song of the year
“Udhero Na,” written by Arooj Aftab, performed by Arooj Aftab and Anoushka Shankar
“Vini Wè,” written and performed by Leyla McCalla
WINNER: “Bright Star,” written and performed by Anais Mitchell
“How,” written by Marcus Mumford and Brandi Carlile, performed by Marcus Mumford featuring Brandi Carlile
WINNER: “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.