Due to a tie, there are six nominees for “Entertainer of the Year”: Balsam Range, Billy Strings, Del McCoury Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Sister Sadie, and Special Consensus 

IBMA Announces 2020 Annual Inductees to the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame: New Grass Revival, The Johnson Mountain Boys, and J.T. Gray, Owner of Nashville’s World Famous Station Inn. 

Five Bluegrass Industry Innovators Announced as Recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award 

Nashville, TN, June 26, 2020 –Nominees for the 31st Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards were announced today in Nashville, Tennessee. Due to a tie in the voting, there are six nominees (instead of five) for “Entertainer of the Year” in 2020: Balsam Range, Billy Strings, Del McCoury Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Sister Sadie, and Special Consensus.  The six nominees for this year’s top award include two revered Hall of Fame members (Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson), past EoY winners (Balsam Range, Del McCoury), the first “Entertainer of the Year” nomination for Billy Strings, Special Consensus and Sister Sadie, and the first time a group composed of all female performers – Sister Sadie –  has been nominated for this top award. The IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards will be broadcast on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction on Thursday, October 1; additional details about the broadcast will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Also announced today were three inductees into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame: owner of Nashville’s iconic Station Inn, J.T. Gray; hardcore bluegrass traditionalists The Johnson Mountain Boys; and one of the premier bands at the forefront of the contemporary/progressive bluegrass movements of the 1970s and ’80s New Grass Revival. Additionally, the following were named as recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award: festival pioneers Norman & Judy Adams, “Musicians Against Childhood Cancer” (MACC) founders Darrel & Phyllis Adkins, fiddle virtuoso/educator Darol Anger, San Diego’s KSON “Bluegrass Special” host Wayne Rice, and bluegrass innovator Jack Tottle

“Congratulations to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, Distinguished Achievement Awards recipients, and Music Awards nominees! All of you have been selected by your peers for your excellence this past year – or over a lifetime – in bluegrass music,” said Paul Schiminger, Executive Director of IBMA.  “While we wish we could be in Raleigh to celebrate each of your achievements in person, we are preparing a special awards show to be aired on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction and streamed for those who want to watch the program. We will be announcing more details in the weeks ahead, so please stay tuned!”

Earlier this month, the IBMA and its Local Organizing Committee partners in Raleigh, North Carolina announced that due to ongoing health concerns relating to COVID-19, and the logistical challenges of creating a safe in-person event experience, this year’s IBMA World of Bluegrass will take place virtually. The planned conference, showcases, awards and festival performances will be presented as an online experience September 28-Oct. 3, with the possibility of extending event content beyond those dates. 

 IBMA is actively working to develop innovative, compelling activities and content for this year’s event, and will be releasing information and updates throughout the summer. As additional details about the Awards Show and other IBMA World of Bluegrass 2020 virtual events  are determined, they will be shared across the organization’s social media platforms, through email notification, and on worldofbluegrass.org and ibma.org. Updates will also be available via social media platforms and email newsletters of Raleigh partners, including PineCone, the Raleigh Convention Center, and Visit Raleigh.

Awards are voted on by the professional membership of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), the professional nonprofit association for the bluegrass music industry. 

For more information about the IBMA’s awards or how to obtain a recording of the IBMA Awards Show for rebroadcast, please go to www.ibma.org

The New Grass Revival was one of the premier bands at the forefront of the contemporary/progressive bluegrass movements of the 1970s, and ’80s. Both in appearance and in their approach to the music, they were a definite departure from bluegrass of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Their very name became synonymous with new trends in the music, and their sound owed as much to rhythm and blues, reggae, and rock and roll as it did to bluegrass and country. The band got its start in 1971 when four members of the Bluegrass Alliance broke away. The initial lineup of the New Grass Revival was Sam Bush on mandolin, Courtney Johnson on banjo, Ebo Walker on bass, and Curtis Burch on guitar.  In 1973, Butch Robins replaced Walker, and then a year later bass player and soaring tenor vocalist John Cowan joined the band.

The group had one album release on Starday, titled simply New Grass Revival. The band moved to Flying Fish, where they had five releases over the next seven years: Fly Through the Country (1975), Too Late to Turn Back Now (1977), When the Storm is Over (1978), Barren County (1979), and Commonwealth (1982). Taking their music to a broader audience, in 1979 New Grass Revival spent the season as the opening act and backing band for rocker Leon Russell. Then in 1981, Johnson and Burch decided to leave the band, and the new line-up consisted of Sam Bush, John Cowan, rock solid guitarist Pat Flynn, and cutting edge banjoist Béla Fleck.

The New Grass Revival switched to the Sugar Hill label in 1984. Their sole album there, On the Boulevard, signaled a complete makeover of the band. After signing with Capitol Records, they released three albums in three years: New Grass Revival (1986), Hold to a Dream (1987), and Friday Night in America (1989). Capitol released six singles by the band, with “Calling Baton Rouge” cracking the Top 40. 

The New Grass Revival played their last show on New Year’s Eve in 1989. Sam Bush spent five years touring with Emmylou Harris and went on to form the highly successful Sam Bush Band, while Béla Fleck continues to enjoy an acclaimed career as a versatile, virtuosic, trailblazing banjo player.  John Cowan went on to front the John Cowan Band and is now a member of the pop group The Doobie Brothers, in addition to touring with Darin & Brooke Aldridge. Pat Flynn continued his career as a successful studio musician.  At the request of Garth Brooks, the group reunited in the recording studio in 1993 on his version of “Calling Baton Rouge” and again in 1997 for his recording of “Do What You Gotta Do.”

About IBMA

IBMA – the International Bluegrass Music Association – is the nonprofit professional organization for the global bluegrass music community. The organization’s successful run in Raleigh is the product of their partnership with The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Raleigh Convention Center, PineCone—The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, the City of Raleigh and a local organizing committee.


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Casey Campbell, IBMA
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