First-time recipients and repeat winners were honored at the 29th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards in Raleigh, North Carolina, held Thursday night. Balsam Range, a five-piece band from North Carolina’s Haywood County, took the evening’s top prize as Entertainer of the Year, an award they previously won in 2014.
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, one of the genre’s most enduring acts, earned their eighth Vocal Group of the Year award, while Female Vocalist Brooke Aldridge and Male Vocalist of the Year Buddy Melton, who leads Balsam Range, were repeat winners in those categories with Aldridge winning last year and Melton having won in 2014.
The Instrumental Group of the Year was the Travelin’ McCourys, taking their first award in that category. The group is led by brothers Ronnie and Rob McCoury, who, along with other band members have won numerous IBMA honors in the past. Michael Cleveland took Fiddle Player of the Year for the 11th time, and Molly Tuttle, who made history as the first female Guitar Player of the Year in 2017, repeated her win in that category, as did Mandolin Player of the Year Sierra Hull, who has now won that award three times. Of special note is the award for Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year, “Squirrel Hunters,” which features the voice of the late banjo player and “Gentle on My Mind” songwriter John Hartford introducing the old-time tune.
The International Bluegrass Music Awards were hosted by legendary band Hot Rize at the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center in Raleigh, and voted on by the professional membership of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). The awards show is the cornerstone of the IBMA’s annual “World of Bluegrass” gathering of industry professionals and fans from around the globe and concludes with the star-studded Wide Open Bluegrass festival which begins today and runs through Saturday.
Here’s the complete list of winners of the 29th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards:
Entertainer of the Year: Balsam Range
Vocal Group of the Year: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Instrumental Group of the Year: The Travelin’ McCourys
Song of the Year: “If I’d Have Wrote That Song,” Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers (artist), Larry Cordle/Larry Shell/James Silvers (writers)
Album of the Year: Rivers & Roads, Special Consensus
Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year: “Speakin’ to That Mountain,” Becky Buller
Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year: “Squirrel Hunters,” Special Consensus with John Hartford, Rachel Baiman, Christian Sedelmyer, and Alison Brown
Emerging Artist of the Year: The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
Recorded Event of the Year: “Swept Away,” Missy Raines with Alison Brown, Becky Buller, Sierra Hull, and Molly Tuttle
Female Vocalist of the Year: Brooke Aldridge
Male Vocalist of the Year: Buddy Melton
Banjo Player of the Year: Ned Luberecki
Bass Player of the Year: Tim Surrett
Dobro Player of the Year: Justin Moses
Fiddle Player of the Year: Michael Cleveland
Guitar Player of the Year: Molly Tuttle
Mandolin Player of the Year: Sierra Hull