Americana Music Association

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Americana Music Association
Americana Music Association logo.gif
Typenot-for-profit music organization
Headquarters Nashville, TN
Official language
Executive Director
Jed Hilly

The Americana Music Association (AMA) is a professional not-for-profit trade organization whose mission is to advocate for the authentic voice of American Roots Music around the world. [1] Toward these ends the organization works with Americana artists, radio stations, record labels, publishers, and others to create networking opportunities and to develop an infrastructure that will assure visibility and economic viability. Additionally, the organization works to increase brand recognition of Americana music and its artists. The Association produces events throughout the year including the annual Americana Music Festival and Conference and the Americana Music Honors & Awards typically held together in the fall. [2] The AMA also manages and publishes radio airplay charts. [3] It publishes newsletters, conducts market research, and disseminates information about important events in the Americana community.

Americana is an amalgam of American music formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the musical ethos of the United States, specifically those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, gospel, and other external influences. Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is "contemporary music that incorporates elements of various mostly acoustic American roots music styles, including country, roots rock, folk, gospel and bluegrass resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band."


History of the Americana Music Association

Since 1999, the Americana Music Association has helped American roots music assume an elevated and secure place in the artistic and commercial life of the nation. What began as an informal gathering of dedicated colleagues has grown into a movement endorsed by major media and iconic artists. The Recording Academy added the category of “Best Americana Album” in 2009, [4] and Merriam-Webster included the musical term into the dictionary in 2011.

Merriam-Webster American publisher

Merriam-Webster, Inc., is an American company that publishes reference books and is especially known for its dictionaries.

The AMA has not only been a refuge for artistry in a time of tumult for popular music, but also, a resource for hundreds of upcoming artists, songwriters, musicians, and producers. Today, Americana is one of the best selling music genres according to Billboard’s Top 20 album charts - with artists like Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars, The Lumineers and more, becoming the mainstream and not the exception.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

Mumford & Sons English folk rock band

Mumford & Sons are a British band formed in 2007. The band consists of Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane.

The Avett Brothers American folk-rock band

The Avett Brothers are an American folk rock band from Concord, North Carolina. The band is made up of two brothers, Scott Avett and Seth Avett along with Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon. Mike Marsh (drums) and Bonnie Avett-Rini (piano) are touring members of the band.

In the late 1990s, a group of about 30 volunteers from radio, record labels and media met informally at the South by Southwest music industry conference in Austin, Texas, to discuss collective action that could help the Americana community, including the possibility of a trade association. A facilitated retreat in October 1999 galvanized the idea, and the Americana Music Association was born. Early the following year, the Association hosted its first annual Americana Night at South by Southwest, and then in September 2000, the AMA held its first convention at the Hilton Suites in downtown Nashville, featuring showcase performances by Sam Bush, Rhonda Vincent, Rodney Crowell, and Jim Lauderdale. The Americana Honors and Awards were added to the convention in year three, and the evening proved moving and historic. Americana icons Emmylou Harris, Billy Joe Shaver, and T-Bone Burnett were given lifetime achievement awards for performing, songwriting, and executive achievement, respectively. After much behind-the-scenes planning, the audience was treated to a surprise performance by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash with members of the Cash family. Johnny accepted the AMA’s first-ever “Spirit of Americana” Free Speech Award with a stunning recitation of his song-poem “Ragged Old Flag,” and then, despite his failing health, he and June led their family band through a set of songs that reached back through time. It turned out to be the last public performance the Cash’s would ever give together. [5]

South by Southwest is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States. It began in 1987, and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year. In 2017, the conference lasted for 10 days with SXSW interactive lasting for five days, music for seven days and film running concurrently for nine days.

Sam Bush American musician

Charles Samuel Bush is an American mandolinist who is considered an originator of progressive bluegrass music.

Rhonda Vincent American musician

Rhonda Lea Vincent is an American bluegrass singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist.

Over time, the fall event attracted larger groups of fans and industry conferees. In response, the organization formally changed the name of its event to the Americana Music Festival and Conference, welcoming not just those in the business, but anyone with a passion for music. By 2008, the event had expanded to four days, moved its Awards Show to the historic Ryman Auditorium, and attracted nearly 1,000 industry professionals, plus a cumulative total of over 12,000 visitors for the nighttime showcases.

Ryman Auditorium concert hall and theatre in Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Ryman Auditorium is a 2,362-seat live-performance venue located at 116 5th Avenue North, in Nashville, Tennessee. It is best known as the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974 and is owned and operated by Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc.

Each year’s emotionally charged musical performances have been as varied as Americana itself: Levon Helm’s Ramble at the Ryman; John Fogerty in a packed Mercy Lounge; Grace Potter with the Waybacks channeling the Grateful Dead at the Cannery Ballroom; then newcomers, The Avett Brothers at the Station Inn with an audience of 150. The Civil Wars performed a breathtaking rendition of “Barton Hollow” at the Gibson Showroom which streamed live on Music City Roots where the world took notice. An unannounced duet by Robert Plant and Buddy Miller drove noted acerbic music industry blogger Bob Lefsetz to gush, “Their passion was palpable. My only desire was to get closer. My only hope was that the music would never end.” [6]

Levon Helm American musician and actor

Mark Lavon "Levon" Helm was an American musician and actor who achieved fame as the drummer and one of the vocalists for the Band. Helm was known for his deeply soulful, country-accented voice, multi-instrumental ability, and creative drumming style, highlighted on many of the Band's recordings, such as "The Weight", "Up on Cripple Creek", and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down".

<i>Ramble at the Ryman</i> 2011 live album by Levon Helm

Ramble at the Ryman is a 2011 live album recorded by American rock multi-instrumentalist Levon Helm during his September 17, 2008 performance at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. The performance kicked off the beginning of the Americana Music Festival & Conference. The album features six songs by The Band and other cover material, including songs from previous Helm solo releases. Helm's band is led by multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell and Helm's daughter, vocalist and mandolinist Amy Helm.

John Fogerty American musician

John Cameron Fogerty is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Together with Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and his brother Tom Fogerty, he founded the band Creedence Clearwater Revival, for which he was the lead singer, lead guitarist and principal songwriter. The group had nine top-ten singles and eight gold albums between 1968 and 1972, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Indeed, the annual fall festival and conference has attracted some of the most important figures in the history of Americana Roots Music, including Mavis Staples, Gregg Allman, Judy Collins, John Prine, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Solomon Burke and Lyle Lovett.

International medias have taken notice as well, including Paste journalist Geoffrey Himes to declare the Americana Honors, “the best awards show in the world,” [7] and noted author Ann Patchett, writing for The New York Times , proclaimed the Americana movement as “the coolest music scene today.” [8]

Fueled by musical legends Bonnie Raitt, Booker T. Jones and Richard Thompson, the next generation of stars including Alabama Shakes, Punch Brothers and John Fullbright, along with music industry heavyweights, the 2012 Americana Music Festival and Conference saw over 15,000 fans, 300 artists and more than 1,200 music industry professionals, experiencing the unparalleled five-day celebration of American Roots inspired music. [9]

The Association’s capstone event, the Americana Music Honors & Awards aired live nationally on September 12 via AXS TV, broadcast via SiriusXM, WSM radio, and streamed by Musical segments of the Americana Honors & Awards show appeared on PBS nationwide during a special presentation: "ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2012" beginning November 10, 2012, in the Austin City Limits time slot. Additional international radio broadcasts via BBC2 and Voice of America began airing September 23. [9]

Founding Council

Founding Council of The Americana Music Association:

Al Moss, Beverly Paul, Bill Wence, Brad Paul, Brad Hunt, Chris Marino, Dan Einstein, Dan Herrington, Dennis Lord, Grant Alden, Greg Hils (RIP), J.D. May, Jack Emerson (RIP), Jeff Weiss, Jessie Scott, Jim Caligiuri, Jon Grimson, Leslie Rouffé, Marie Arsenault, Mike Hays (RIP), Paul Schatzkin, Renee Grace McIntosh, Rod Seagram, Scott Robinson, Stephen Bond Garvan, Steve Wilkison, Sue Fawver, Tiffany Suiters Rizzo, Traci Thomas, Van Tucker

See also

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The Americana Music Honors & Awards is the marquee event for the Americana Music Association. Beginning in 2002, the Americana Music Association honors distinguished members of the music community. Six member-voted awards and several Lifetime Achievement Awards are handed out while over 2000 artists, music-loving fans and entertainment industry executives look on.

The Americana Music Festival & Conference is a music festival and music industry conference that takes place every year. The first was held in 2000. It has since grown into a five-day multi-venue production. It is run by the Americana Music Association which is a professional not-for-profit trade organization whose mission is to promote awareness, provide a forum, and advocate for the creative and economic vitality of the Americana music genre.

Jed Hilly is the current Executive Director of the Americana Music Association. Hilly was formerly the vice-president of Digital Asset Management and Marketing Services at Sony Music Entertainment, Inc.


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  2. "AMA". Archived from the original on May 9, 2011. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  3. "AMA Chart". Archived from the original on May 26, 2002. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  4. "Grammy Changes Reflect Growth of Americana Music" . Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  5. "Americana Music Association History". AMA Press Kit. October 31, 2012.
  6. Lefsetz, Bob. "Americana Music Awards" . Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  7. Himes, Geoffrey (September 18, 2012). "Americana Music Awards". Paste Magazine.
  8. Patchett, Ann (September 23, 2007). "Nashville's Band of Outsiders". The New York Times.
  9. 1 2 "Americana Celebrates Most Successful Event Yet". Archived from the original on February 24, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2012.