Folk Alliance International (FAI) kicked off its 30th Annual Conference 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 acknowledgement 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 organisation’s history.
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.
The People’s Voice Award went to Bonnie Raitt and The Spirit of Folk Awards went to Kristian Blak, Richard Gillmann, Martyn Joseph, Anaïs Mitchell, Betse Siggins.
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.
Album of the Year went to Freedom Highway by Rhiannon Giddens; Song of the Year was awarded to “You Didn’t Call My Name” from Molly Tuttle, while Artist of the Year was awarded to Ordinary Elephant.
Folk Alliance International (FAI) is a registered nonprofit based in Kansas City, Missouri. Founded in 1989, FAI is an advocacy, professional development, and networking organisation that produces the world’s largest conference of the folk music community and industry. 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.
The Clearwater Award was awarded to Winnipeg Folk Festival and Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to Peter, Paul and Mary (Living), Richie Havens (Legacy), Elektra Records (Business/Academic).