On This Day #18 – First IBMA awards show

On This Day ……..

On September 27, 1990 the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) staged its first Awards Show held in Owensboro, Kentucky. The show took place at the now-demolished Executive Inn, which was located overlooking the Ohio River.

The Bluegrass Album Band performed on the very first IBMA Awards Show and was named Instrumental Group of the Year.

Billboard magazine named the event the Best Awards Show of the Year.

Here is a video clip of the All Girl Band – Allison Brown (banjo), Alison Krauss (mandolin), Andrea Zonn (fiddle), Lynn Morris (guitar), and Missy Raines (bass) – performing during the award show. They were introduced by Vince Gill and John McEuen.


The winners of the various awards were as follows ………….

Entertainer of the Year – Hot Rize

Vocal Group of the Year – The Nashville Bluegrass Band

Instrumental Group of the Year – The Bluegrass Album Band

Female Vocalist of the Year – Alison Krauss

Male Vocalist of the Year – Del McCoury

Song of the Year Little Mountain Church, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (artists), Jim Rushing and Carl Jackson (songwriters).

Album of the Year At the Old Schoolhouse, The Johnson Mountain Boys, Rounder Records.

Instrumental Album of the Year The Masters; Adcock, Baker, Graves and McReynolds; CMH.

Recorded Event of the YearClassic Country Gents Reunion; John Duffey, Charlie Waller, Eddie Adcock & Tom Gray; Sugar Hill Records.

Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year – None, not introduced until 1995.

Emerging Artist of the Year – None, not introduced until 1994.

Instrumental Performers of the Year

  • Banjo – Bela Fleck
  • Bass Roy Huskey, Jr
  • Dobro – Jerry Douglas
  • Fiddle – Stuart Duncan
  • Guitar – Tony Rice
  • Mandolin – Sam Bush

Print Media Person of the Year – Art Menius

Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year – Orin Friesen

Graphic Design – Recorded Project – None, not introduced until 1994.

Liner Notes – Recorded Project – None, not introduced until 1994.

Bluegrass Songwriter of the Year – established in 2012.

Bluegrass Event of the Year None, not introduced until 1999.

Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients – Carlton Haney, Wade Mainer, Joe Stuart, and Dr. Charles Wolfe.

Momentum Awards – established in 2012.

In September 2009 the Nashville Country Music Examiner remembered an interesting aspect of that first award show …..

“Opening awards envelopes can be a catastrophe on any awards show. To resolve a problem with an uncooperative one at the very first IBMA Awards show, Mitch Jayne of The Dillards reached into his boot for a large bowie knife to open the envelope that announced the 1990 Entertainer of the Year. Mitch then flipped the knife into the wooden podium, anchoring the tip of his blade in place while he announced Hot Rize as the award recipients.”

Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Béla Fleck, Alison Krauss, Del McCoury, and Tony Rice, a group of artists whose names are synonymous not just with the best in today’s bluegrass and all winners of an award in 1990, were scheduled to stage a unique reunion during the 2013 award show. Unfortunately, illness to Alison Krauss and Tony Rice prevented this from happening.

Some interesting aspects to note relating to the awards over the years include …….

There have only been three winners of the Dobro player award; five for fiddle and mandolin; six for bass and seven for guitar.

The Del McCoury Band has been named Entertainer of the Year nine times, and ten different bands have won that accolade in all.

Six bands have won the Vocal Group of the Year award with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and IIIrd Tyme Out each taking that title seven times.

There have been eight different bands named as Instrumental Group of the Year with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder winners seven times.

Six different ladies have won the Female Vocalist of the Year award with Rhonda Vincent taking that accolade seven times.

The winners of the Male Vocalist of the Year award have been more varied with eleven different singers being named. Russell Moore leads the way with five trophies.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.