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2020 Bluegrass Awards Nominations: Billy Strings, Del McCoury Up for Entertainer of the Year

Six artists in total will vie for top prize at the 31st annual International Bluegrass Music Association Awards

Billy Strings, IBMA Awards

Billy Strings receives his first Entertainer of the Year nomination, at the 2020 Bluegrass Awards.

Suzanne Cordeiro/Shutterstock

Nominations for the 31st annual International Bluegrass Music Association Awards were unveiled Friday in a live event broadcast on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction channel, with an array of talent, from legends to newcomers, recognized in more than a dozen categories. Competition was so tight in the top-prize race this year that Entertainer of the Year features six nominees instead of the usual five.

Musicians vying for Entertainer of the Year are Balsam Range, Billy Strings, Del McCoury Band, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Sister Sadie, and Special Consensus.

With their mention in the category, Sister Sadie — last year’s winners for Vocal Group — is the first all-women outfit ever nominated for Entertainer of the Year. Strings, last year’s New Artist and Guitar Player awards winner, scores his first nomination for Entertainer of the Year, as do the members of Special Consensus. Range and nine-time Entertainer of the Year winners the Del McCoury Band (led by Hall of Fame honoree Del McCoury) were also nominated in the category in 2019. Multiple-nominee Doyle Lawson is also enshrined in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

The 2020 Distinguished Achievement Award recipients and the inductees into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame were also announced. The latter will include pioneering modern-bluegrass band New Grass Revival, traditional-bluegrass icons the Johnson Mountain Boys, and Earl “J.T.” Gray, a bluegrass musician who would go on to share his passion for the genre through his ownership of one of Nashville’s most historically significant music venues, the Station Inn.

The IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards will be broadcast on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction Thursday, October 1st. Additional details about the broadcast will be announced in the coming weeks. The awards ceremony, the World of Bluegrass music festival, and annual conference were scheduled for the fall in Raleigh, North Carolina. While organizers continue to work on creating a safe in-person event experience, this year’s festivities will take place virtually, with the conference, showcases, awards, and performances presented online from September 28th through October 3rd, with the possibility of extending event content beyond those dates.

Here are the 2020 nominees for the International Bluegrass Music Awards:

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR (Tie)
Balsam Range
Billy Strings
Del McCoury Band
Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver
Sister Sadie
Special Consensus

VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Balsam Range
Blue Highway
Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver
Sister Sadie
Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out

INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper
Mile Twelve
Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder
Sam Bush Band
The Travelin’ McCourys

ALBUM OF THE YEAR (Tie)
Chicago Barn Dance, Special Consensus
Home, Billy Strings
Live in Prague, Czech Republic, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver
New Moon Over My Shoulder, Larry Sparks
Tall Fiddler, Michael Cleveland
Toil, Tears & Trouble, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
Tribulation, Appalachian Road Show

SONG OF THE YEAR
“Both Ends of the Trail,” Blue Highway
“Chicago Barn Dance,” Special Consensus with Michael Cleveland and Becky Buller
“Haggard,” The Grascals
“Hickory, Walnut & Pine,” The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
“Living Like There’s No Tomorrow,” Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver

GOSPEL RECORDING OF THE YEAR
“Angel Too Soon,” Balsam Range
“Because He Loved Me,” Dale Ann Bradley
“Gonna Rise and Shine,” Alan Bibey and Grasstowne
“I’m Going to Heaven,” Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver
“Little Black Train,” Appalachian Road Show

INSTRUMENTAL RECORDING OF THE YEAR
“Tall Fiddler,” Michael Cleveland with Tommy Emmanuel
“Shenandoah Breakdown,” Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver
“Soldier’s Joy,” Jesse McReynolds with Michael Cleveland
“The Appalachian Road,” Appalachian Road Show
“Guitar Peace,” Billy Strings

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Appalachian Road Show
Carolina Blue
High Fidelity
Merle Monroe
Mile Twelve

COLLABORATIVE RECORDING OF THE YEAR
“Chicago Barn Dance,” Special Consensus with Michael Cleveland and Becky Buller
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” Jason Barie featuring Del McCoury and Paul Williams
“Tall Fiddler,” Michael Cleveland with Tommy Emmanuel
“The Barber’s Fiddle,” Becky Buller with Shawn Camp, Jason Carter, Laurie Lewis, Kati Penn, Sam Bush, Michael Cleveland, Johnny Warren, Stuart Duncan, Deanie Richardson, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Jason Barie, Fred Carpenter, Tyler Andal, Nate Lee, Dan Boner, Brian Christianson, and Laura Orshaw
“On and On,” Gena Britt with Brooke Aldridge

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Ronnie Bowman
Del McCoury
Russell Moore
Danny Paisley
Larry Sparks

FEMALE VOCALIST
Brooke Aldridge
Dale Ann Bradley
Amanda Smith
Molly Tuttle
Rhonda Vincent

BANJO PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kristin Scott Benson
Gena Britt
Gina Furtado
Ned Luberecki
Scott Vestal

BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Barry Bales
Mike Bub
Todd Phillips
Missy Raines
Marshall Wilborn

FIDDLE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Becky Buller
Jason Carter
Michael Cleveland
Stuart Duncan
Deanie Richardson

RESOPHONIC GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jerry Douglas
Andy Hall
Rob Ickes
Phil Leadbetter
Justin Moses

GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Trey Hensley
Billy Strings
Bryan Sutton
Molly Tuttle
Jake Workman

MANDOLIN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Alan Bibey
Jesse Brock
Sam Bush
Sierra Hull
Ronnie McCoury

In This Article: Billy Strings, Del McCoury Band

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