As the Americana Honors & Awards ceremony made a triumphant return to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday (Sept. 14), Allison Russell, Billy Strings, and Brandi Carlile were among those receiving top honors. A stellar array of musicians that demonstrated the diversity of Americana’s growing sound were sprinkled throughout the evening with nearly a dozen awards.
After his third album, Renewal, was released in 2021, master guitarist Billy Strings won the night’s most prized award, artist of the year. However, Strings was not present at the Ryman on Wednesday night since he was on tour in New England. Jerry Douglas, a famed dobro and steel guitar player, presented and accepted the award in Strings’ place.
Russell and Carlile’s collaboration on “You’re Not Alone,” backed by a bunch of talented musicians, was without a doubt one of the evening’s most stirring and soul-lifting moments. Russell, summarizing the love in the room that night, said this in a joyful tone: “Our circle is unbroken. Our circle is whole. None above, none below, all of us equal under the listening sky.”
Outside Child, which was produced by Dan Knobler, won album of the year for Russell, who entered the competition with three nominations. “Over and over again tonight I’ve heard two things: Community, family, union, belonging. Being uplifted, being inspired. I feel so honored to be a part of this community,” said a grateful Russell.