Mindy, Loretta Win in TN

Women rule at Americana Awards

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At the Americana Honors and Awards in Nashville on Friday, country veteran Loretta Lynn took home Artist of the Year and Album of the Year for Van Lear Rose -- produced by White Stripes rocker Jack White -- while Mindy Smith was named New/Emerging Artist of the Year.

Smith performed "Come to Jesus," from her 2004 debut, One Moment More, and she's already planning the follow-up. The Long Island native plans to begin work in November, after she finishes her current House of Blues tour with Charlie Mars and Garrison Starr. "My next record is feeling a little more blues-rock than anything," she said, "but it just depends on what I write when I get home." Smith recently took a detour from the tour to record a song for an upcoming Starbucks compilation. "It's an old standard called 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,'" she says. "It's real traditional jazz-sounding."

Other Americana winners included Rodney Crowell, who was awarded Song of the Year for "Fate's Right Hand"; and Chris Hillman of the Byrds, who was given the Lifetime Achievement Award. The President's Award went to the Carter Family in recognition of a longstanding career that began with the trio of Sara, A.P. and Maybelle Carter in the Twenties. Other performers included Shelby Lynne, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Steve Earle, who played his combative "Rich Man's War" and was awarded the Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award.

"Nobody should get an award for saying anything that they want to say in a democracy," said the always provocative Earle.

The Americana Honors and Awards are held annually in Nashville as part of the Americana Music Association Conference.