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2015 26th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards

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IBMA Awards LogoNashville, TN -- As Hurricane Joaquin races towards the East Coast and Raleigh, North Carolina, it was the International Bluegrass Music Awards that was the focus on the excitement for the evening. During the week, the IBMA elected new board members, assigned a new chairman to the board and many mentoring and educational sessions also took place. It is, however, the Awards Show that brings the entire bluegrass community together for the season's Grand Finale. This year was certainly no exception. The Earls of Leicester were the Earls of Raleigh last night. Capturing the coveted Entertainer of the Year, the group also won the trophy for Instrumental Group of the Year and Album of the Year.

Becky Buller captures many songwriting awards and an award for the Recorded Event of the yeasr for "Southern Flavor". Jerry Douglas also captured his fair share. Rhonda Vincent took home the Female Vocalist of the year and Shawn Camp the Male Vocalist of the year. The full list of award winners is below.

Performances by Steep Canyon Rangers and Edie Brickell, Flatt Lonesome, Larry Sparks, Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen and appearances by Bryan Sutton, Michael Cleveland and Becky Buller and performances by all five Entertainer of the Year nominees highlighted the show with award presenters that included N.C. Governor Pat McCory, Alison Brown, Garry West, and Noam Pikelny. If this was the wrapping, you know what was inside was sure to be even better. It was.

2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

Bill Keith & Larry SparksBill Keith and Larry Sparks are the newest members to be inducted into the association's Hall of Fame. The induction took place during the IBMA's annual Awards Show in Raleigh, North Carolina. Both Keith and Sparks have left a permanent impression in the music we call Bluegrass. Both are also still active in the music and bring a long tradition of their respective styles as they helped shape the sound of today. While each are significantly different in their contributions, there is no denying that without them much of what we listen today would have been shaped differently.

Bill Keith is probably best known with the banjo instrument. Bill Keith tuners being just one piece of the puzzle. The tuners, widely accepted in their use today are, however, a minor contribution by Keith. Keith's greatest impact was his modern banjo style which became pronounced with the advent of Newgrass. His early Dixieland work is reflected in his melodic, chromatic Keith style today. Many a student still tries to follow the "Bill Keith Style" of picking.

Keith was exposed to and participated in a wide variety of styles during the 60s and 70s folk and bluegrass junction. The two music forms were frequently blended together and Keith was certainly right there in the middle with Earl Scruggs and Pete Seeger. The third name being Bill Keith. His familiarity with the bluegrass style of Earl Scruggs became firmly established when Earl Scruggs asked Keith to write the tablature for Scruggs' Earl Scruggs and the 5-String Banjo. That volume has become the essential starting point for anybody wanting to learn the Scruggs Style of 3-finger picking.

As a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, Keith introduced the world to his melodic-chromatic style. During this part of his career, he was also notably the first member of Monroe's band that wasn't from the south. The banjo player from Boston brought a whole new sound to bluegrass. Keith and Scruggs are the two banjo players that helped define the bluegrass sound. Both had their unique styles named after them and both certainly helped make bluegrass music the genre that it is today.

Larry Sparks will also join the distinguished Hall of Fame which includes many of the names of the founders, legends and artists that have not only created the style but also have secured bluegrass as a style that has proven to endure the test of time. Sparks falls into the "legends" category and has been involved with bluegrass since his start with the Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys to today, where he fronts his own band, The Lonesome Ramblers.

Guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, Larry Sparks has found his work on over 60 albums and has won numerous IBMA awards including Album of the Year, Recorded Event of the Year, and Male Vocalist of the Year twice. Like Keith, Sparks found his roots in the '60s. He replaced Carter Stanley with Ralph Stanley's band after Carter's passing. His lead guitar was a solid foundation with Ralph as they ventured out with Ralph's solo career.

After a while, Sparks began his own career with a great deal of professional, high exposure experience under his belt. It was during this era that he recorded "John Deere Tractor" which ultimately became his unofficial identity song. Over the years, he recorded many influential songs that became synonymous with his name. Today, Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers are a draw at any festival or concert they perform at. He hold tight to the roots of tradition while having the ability to stray off the beaten path. The ability to venture out yet remain true to the style is an important part of the Larry Sparks success story.

The Hall of Fame inductions will be one of the high points of the International Bluegrass Music Awards, which took place Thursday, October 1 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Memorial Hall in Raleigh, NC. The IBMA Awards are part of a bigger event, the World of Bluegrass trade show, convention, awards show, showcases and music festival.

The complete list of award recipients for this year including the Hall of Fame inductees, Momentum Awards and the recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award are:

  • 2015 HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
    • Bill Keith
    • Larry Sparks
  • 2015 DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD RECIPIENTS
    • Alison Brown
    • Murphy Henry
    • International Bluegrass Music Museum
    • “Bashful Brother” Oswald Kirby
    • Steve Martin

The International Bluegrass Music Awards

    ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
    • The Earls of Leicester
  • VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
    • Balsam Range
  • INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
    • The Earls of Leicester
  • SONG OF THE YEAR
    • “Moon Over Memphis” – Balsam Range (artist), Mark W. Winchester (writer)
  • ALBUM OF THE YEAR
    • The Earls of Leicester – The Earls of Leicester (artist) Jerry Douglas (producer), Rounder
  • GOSPEL RECORDED PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
    • “Who Will Sing for Me” – The Earls of Leicester (artist), The Earls of Leicester (album), Carter Stanley, Ralph Stanley (writer), Jerry Douglas (producers), Rounder Records
  • INSTRUMENTAL RECORDED PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
    • “The Three Bells” - Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes (artists), The Three Bells (album), Jean Villard, Bert Reisfeld (writers), Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes (producer), Rounder Records
  • RECORDED EVENT OF THE YEAR
    • “Southern Flavor” – Becky Buller, with Peter Rowan, Michael Feagan, Buddy Spicher, Ernie Sykes, Roland White and Blake Williams (artists), Stephen Mougin (producer) Dark Shadow Recording
  • EMERGING ARTIST OF THE YEAR
    • Becky Buller
  • MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
    • Shawn Camp
  • FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
    • Rhonda Vincent
  • INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMERS OF THE YEAR
    • BANJO
      • Rob McCoury
    • BASS
      • Tim Surrett
    • FIDDLE
      • Michael Cleveland
    • DOBRO
      • Jerry Douglas
    • GUITAR
      • Bryan Sutton
    • MANDOLIN
      • Jesse Brock

2015 International Bluegrass Music Special Awards:

  • BLUEGRASS BROADCASTER OF THE YEAR
    • Chris Jones, Bluegrass Junction, Sirius XM
  • BLUEGRASS EVENT OF THE YEAR was a tie
    • A Lester Flatt Celebration 2014, Sparta, Tennessee
    • 42nd RockyGrass Festival, Lyons, Colorado
  • BEST GRAPHIC DESIGN FOR A RECORDED PROJECT
    • Michael Gerstenberger (designer), Complete Recordings 1936-55, Chuck Wagon Gang, Bear Family Productions
  • BEST LINER NOTES FOR A RECORDED PROJECT
    • Eddie Stubbs and Bill Malone, Complete Recordings 1936-55, Chuck Wagon Gang, Bear Family Productions
  • BLUEGRASS PRINT/MEDIA PERSON OF THE YEAR
    • Gary Reid, author, The Music of the Stanley Brothers and The Bluegrass Hall of Fame Inductee Biographies 1991-2014
  • BLUEGRASS SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
    • Becky Buller

2015 International Bluegrass Music Momentum Awards:

  • PERFORMANCE AWARD, Instrumentalists (final committee will select 3)
    • Annie Staninec (fiddle)
  • PERFORMANCE AWARD, Vocalist (final committee to select 1)
    • Summer McMahan (Mountain Faith)
  • PERFORMANCE AWARD, Band (final committee to select 1)
    • Lonely Heartstring Band
  • INDUSTRY INVOLVEMENT AWARD, Media/Artisan/Business/General
    • Alan Tompkins (promoter, radio broadcaster, association leader)
  • FESTIVAL/EVENT/VENUE
    • ISIS Restaurant and Music Hall – Asheville, NC
  • MENTOR AWARD (given to a bluegrass professional who has made a significant impact on the lives and careers of newcomers to the bluegrass industry)
    • Andrea Roberts (Andrea Roberts Agency)

Special Awards, including the Distinguished Achievement Awards, will be presented at a luncheon on Thursday, October 1 at the World of Bluegrass Business Conference in Raleigh, NC. The Momentum Awards were e presented at a luncheon on Wednesday, September 30 in Raleigh, NC.

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