In continuing recognition of its wide range of influences, from country, folk and bluegrass to gospel, soul and blues, the Americana Music Association takes its latest recipient of a special honor from all three of the latter categories.
An eight-time Blues Music Award winner, the 77-year-old Soul Queen of New Orleans, who has been recording since 1959, scored her most successful R&B-to-pop crossover hit in 1964 with “Wish Someone Would Care,” a record backed by the Jackie DeShannon-Sharon Sheeley tune, “Break-a-Way,” which remains a staple of Thomas’ live performances and was later a hit for Tracey Ullman. Another of Thomas’ b-sides would also become a well-known hit for another artist when the Rolling Stones had their first Top Ten with “Time Is on My Side.” The record’s a-side, “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand),” was an early composition for Randy Newman, with Grand Ole Opry star Jeannie Seely among the tune’s co-writers. Thomas’ recording has been featured in a handful of episodes of the Netflix anthology series, Black Mirror and in the recent trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Thomas would also apply her distinctively warm vocals to such songs as “It’s Raining” and “Ruler of My Heart,” cut by Otis Redding as “Pain in My Heart.” Moving from the Imperial label to
After an extended break from recording, Thomas would stage a spectacular comeback when she signed with Rounder Records. She earned her first Grammy nomination for a live LP recorded in San Francisco and would take home her first Grammy for After the Rain, an LP recorded in the devastating wake of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed her Louisiana home and the Lion’s Den, the local nightclub the Louisiana native had opened with her husband and manager Emile Jackson.
Additional honorees at this year’s event include k.d. lang, who will receive the Americana Trailblazer Award, and Buddy Guy, the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in the Instrumentalist category. Nominees include Artist of the Year contenders Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Margo Price and John Prine.
The week-long AmericanaFest, featuring more than 250 performers at various