The Americana music scene in the UK is rapidly growing year on year, and last night a two-day celebration of the genre culminated in the third annual UK Americana Awards.
Held at the legendary Hackney Empire, the awards were hosted by Bob Harris, who has been a champion of Americana in the UK for many years. He was a warm and engaging host and spoke very passionately about his love for the genre and how great it was to see it thriving in the UK. Harris was joined on stage by a star-studded line-up of presenters, including Squeeze frontman Chris Difford, fellow Radio 2 presenter Simon Mayo and even Sir Patrick Stewart, who spoke very profoundly about the privilege of standing on the Empire stage and the loss of such venues elsewhere over the years.
Among the winners on the night were Courtney Marie Andrews, who took home the International Artist of the Year Award (from an all-female shortlist), Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit for International Album of the Year with The Nashville Sound, and Sam Outlaw, who won International Song of the Year for his song Tenderheart. UK winners included The Wandering Hearts (Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award) and Yola Carter (UK Song of the Year for Home).
The final award of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to Robert Plant, who also received the Best Selling Americana Album of the Year Award for Carry Fire. The former Led Zeppelin frontman received a standing ovation from the audience and gave a very humorous speech, where he described his experiences with Americana music as ‘a great adventure’. He performed with his band, the Sensational Space Shifters, before bringing out Trailblazer Award winners Mumford And Sons for a duet.
The show also featured performances from a wide variety of UK and US artists, including Robert Vincent, who opened the show with So In Love, a rock-influenced number with a powerful vocal. Other standout performances included Emily Barker’s beautiful rendition of Over My Shoulder, a song about the refugee crisis with a delicate melody and some seriously impressive notes, Aaron Lee Tasjan’s sparse and swampy rendition of his song Ready To Die, and Imelda May’s moving performance of the bittersweet The Girl I Used To Be.
The full list of this year’s winners is:
UK Instrumentalist of the Year – Thomas Collison
Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award – The Wandering Hearts
Grassroots Award – Come Down And Meet The Folks
International Song of the Year – Tenderheart by Sam Outlaw (written by Sam Outlaw)
UK Song of the Year – Home by Yola Carter (written by Yola Carter)
International Artist of the Year – Courtney Marie Andrews
UK Album of the Year – I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins by Robert Vincent (produced by Robert Vincent, Michael Gay and Etienne Girard)
International Album of the Year – The Nashville Sound by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (produced by Dave Cobb)
UK Artist of the Year – Emily Barker
Trailblazer Award – Mumford & Sons
Lifetime Achievement Award – Robert Plant
Best Selling American Album of the Year – Carry Fire by Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters