Open letter from Rhonda Vincent about IBMA Awards

Rhonda Vincent's open letter to the bluegrass communityRhonda Vincent has written an open letter to the bluegrass community where she shares some thoughts about trends she sees developing in the direction of the annual IBMA Awards Show.

She served on the Awards Show Guidelines and Oversight Task Force Committee, and she expresses some concern about how plans to take the Awards Show to television will affect its bluegrass character.

Dear Bluegrass Friends & Family,

I am sending this email with great concern at the direction our IBMA organization is turning. Several issues became very apparent to me, while serving on the Awards Show Task Force Committee tasked to develop guidelines for the Awards Show. Two of which I approach with urgency, and ask you to react ASAP!

My #1 PRIORITY is to MANDATE the Individual Musicians Awards be included in our awards show. And more specifically, that all nominees names are read, and the winner be allowed to give a brief acceptance. Bluegrass is one of the rare music formats to celebrate the musician. Musicians are the focal point of bluegrass music, and should be the centerpiece of our awards show.

This may seem simple, but it is NOT! Our IBMA Board, has already voted to allow the individual musician awards not only be excluded from the awards show, but they have already been excluded from the broadcast for the past 3 years, much to the surprise of every member I have spoken with.

IF you agree, it is IMPERATIVE that you contact every IBMA Board Member, either by email, in person, telephone, and urge them to place this MANDATE upon these individual musician awards. The board meets on April 13 & 14, 2007.

My second concern is the TV Task Force that is currently working to broadcast our awards show on television. This would be a wonderful thing, IF our music was represented in its purest form, and in the same style as our awards show has been in the past years.

It has been brought to my attention that IF our awards show is broadcast on TV, the awards presentations would likely be reduced to 4 or 5, with the main focus being performances, instead of the 17 awards currently presented.

And according to the current awards show mission statement, our bluegrass performers and awards show hosts, could be replaced by high-profile celebrities, from other genres of music, that “share a love or connection with bluegrass music.” In the end, facing the destruction of the integrity of our music and awards show, and presenting nothing closely related to bluegrass music. A very real scenario when a TV Show replaces the ceremony of honoring our musicians.

If we are true to the pure and honest promotion of bluegrass music, we MUST ask for a MANDATE of the individual musician awards, but also MANDATE that ANY broadcast in ANY FORMAT of our IBMA Awards Show, (including RADIO, TELEVISION or ANY OTHER BROADCAST FORMAT), include ONLY performances of bluegrass artists and award nominees with a direct connection to bluegrass music.

My basic hope is that we join our members together in the celebration of bluegrass music. We honor our musicians, who are the nucleus of our music, and we protect every aspect of our association from the destruction of its integrity.

PLEASE act to mandate the addition of the individual musician categories to our awards show and broadcast.


Rhonda Vincent
IBMA Founding Member

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.