Rounder to receive Folk Alliance award

Rounder Records founders Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton and Bill Nowlin - photo by Peter FeldmannHot on the heals of the success of Rounder recording artists at The Grammy award show on Sunday comes news of an award for the label itself.

The North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance (Folk Alliance) will honor Rounder Records as a recipient of the 2008 Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards (LAAwards) at the Folk Awards Show Wednesday, February 20, 2008, in Memphis, Tennessee.

The awards, a highlight of the Folk Alliance’s annual conference, are given to those who have inspired others, achieved definitive leadership in their field and contributed to the advancement of folk music and/or dance. Each year the LAAwards honor two performers, one living and one legacy, and a person or institution involved in the business or academic side of the folk world, who have devoted their life’s work and talent to the advancement of the performing folk arts. Mavis Staples and the late Tommy Jarrell take the award in the living and legacy categories, respectively.

The Rounder story is well-known, indeed we have recently posted a link to a press article in a Massachusetts newspaper. However, here’s what the Rounder press release says about themselves.

In 1970, with only their passionate enthusiasm for American roots music lighting the way, three Cambridge, Massachusetts college students, Bill Nowlin, Ken Irwin, and Marian Leighton Levy, cast their lot into the perilous music industry. The tenacious trio went the distance: from humble beginnings to what is now America’s premier independent record label. From its early interest in rural American music (via fiddle, stringband, blues, and bluegrass recordings) to an expansive catalogue of more than 2,500 titles running the gamut from folk to world, soul to socas, jazz to juju, Cajun to Celtic, and beyond, Rounder has emerged as the pre-eminent source for vital, uncompromised music of all genres.

Rounder’s award comes in the Business/Industry Lifetime Achievement Award category.

I asked Marian Leighton Levy for her reaction to this news

“It’s wonderful to be honored with Folk Alliance’s Lifetime Achievement Award. It came as a complete surprise and is the kind of recognition of Rounder artists, the label’s history and catalogue, that makes us both pleased as punch and very proud. While it’s always nice to have Rounder recognized within the industry, it’s particularly meaningful when it comes from an organization so devoted to the music and make up of fellow-music lovers like ourselves.”

Two Rounder artists, The SteelDrivers and Vienna Teng, will be performing at conference showcases throughout the week.

The 2008 International Folk Alliance Conference runs from Wednesday, February 20 until Sunday, February 24. The full schedule is available on their web site.

The Folk Alliance was founded in 1989 and seeks to create new and better opportunities for all those involved in the performance folk arts. With thousands of attendees annually, their conference offers a complete view of the business world of traditional and contemporary folk music and dance through showcases, educational seminars, films, and a networking-rich trade show.

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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.