The International Bluegrass Music Association has today announced that country singer Lee Ann Womack and reso-guitar superstar Jerry Douglas would serve as hosts for the 25th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards. The awards presentation will be held October 2, 2014 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, NC.
During the program, awards will be distributed in nearly two dozen categories, along with performances from the top artists in bluegrass music, and presentations of special honors. Winners are chosen by the professional membership of the IBMA in a three-stage balloting process. Nominees will be announced in mid-August.
The awards show occurs each year midway through IBMA’s annual convention, known as the World of Bluegrass. Running September 30 to October 4 this year, the week begins with a business conference geared to industry professionals, and ends with a outdoor music festival that weekend, Wide Open Bluegrass, all in downtown Raleigh.
Womack has never worked within the bluegrass realm, but has received her share of awards in country music, along with a number of hit records. But she loves the music and is excited to be hosting.
“Last year, I came as a fan – and I loved every moment of World of Bluegrass! The joy everybody has about the music, the quality of the playing, seeing old friends, discovering new artists and even meeting Tony Rice! To be a part of the IBMA Awards is such an honor, I can’t tell you… and to get to co-host with Jerry Douglas? How lucky can one girl get?!”
Douglas came up as a grasser, and was involved with a number of seminal bands in the 1970s and ’80s, before establishing himself as both a headliner in his own right, and a partner with Alison Krauss & Union Station. He will be performing during the Wide Open Bluegrass festival with his latest venture, The Earls of Leicester, which serves to honor the early pioneers of bluegrass.
He is likewise pumped about hosting the awards.
“It is my great pleasure to be co-hosting this year’s IBMA Awards. In the forty years that I have been a professional musician, starting with the Country Gentlemen in 1973, bluegrass music has been my anchor and compass wherever I may go. If that weren’t enough, I get to share duties with the beautiful Lee Ann Womack, one of the most amazing singers in the world and a very funny lady. I don’t exactly see a night of sticking to the teleprompter with her around, and that is just fine with me. I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful evening for us all!”
While their selection will likely generate the attention outside of the bluegrass world that the organization seeks, it will also raise the familiar debate within the community about whether the IBMA is seeking to promote traditional and contemporary bluegrass, or expand its boundaries beyond a point where many fans feel comfortable. It is a rhetorical battle that has existed in bluegrass (and in country) music for that same forty years Douglas referenced above, and isn’t likely to be settled soon.
You can find all necessary details about World of Bluegrass, the IBMA Awards show, and Wide Open Bluegrass online. Tickets for all events are available for sale now.