In addition to the nominees for the International Bluegrass Music Awards, this morning’s press conference also announced the two inductees into the IBMA’s Hall Of Honor this year.
First to be announced is The Lewis Family, widely described as “America’s First Family of Bluegrass Gospel Music.” It is rare to find a performing outfit such as this, who manage to exist as both pioneers of the genre and an active touring act at the same time. They have been doing shows for 45 years, originally with Roy “Pop” Lewis, and his children Miggie, Polly, Janis and “Little Roy,” and eventually including “Pop’s” grandchildren and sometimes their spouses.
WSM’s Eddie Stubbs pointed out during the announcement what a major contribution The Lewis Family made to both the musical and professional sides of bluegrass entertainment. Through a rigorous schedule of performances, they have brought the music to a great many places where it could be enjoyed and discovered. They also demonstrated the power of marketing and presentation to their fellow bluegrass groups as the festival scene was developing in the 1960s, perhaps even defining the way that artists now sell recordings and merchandise at their shows.
Also being inducted this year is Syd Nathan, founder of King Records, who signed Reno & Smily in 1952 and The Stanley Brothers in 1958. Their King Recordings are almost all legitimate classics, and Stubbs again credited Nathan’s marketing savvy for getting these bluegrass acts into jukeboxes all over the country where new fans could be made.
Both inductions will occur during the International Bluegrass Music Awards show at The Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville on September 28.