New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Rhiannon Giddens will receive the inaugural Legacy of Americana Award from the National
Museum of African American Music
(NMAAM) and the Americana Music
Association, as will posthumous recipient Francis "Frank
" Johnson, a pioneering American composer from the Antebellum era. The award will be presented during the 18th annual Americana Honors & Awards on September
11 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, at which Giddens is up for Artist of the Year and her group Our Native Daughters for Duo/Group of the Year as well. Rhiannon Giddens will also speak on a panel with writer John Jeremiah Sullivan - whose article on Giddens, Johnson, and the legacy of black string band music was published in The New Yorker earlier this year - on the closing day of AmericanaFest's music industry conference in Nashville, September
The Legacy of Americana Award is part of a new partnership between the National
Museum of African American Music, the only museum committed to preserving the legacy and honoring the musical accomplishments of African Americans, and the Americana Music
Association, whose mission is to advocate for the authentic voice of American roots music around the world. This new partnership stems from the two institutions' mutual dedication to commemorating innovative musicians, composers, and producers who have left an indelible impact on music and culture.
The award has been instituted to honor an artist, writer, producer, or educator who has either made a lasting impression through music or inspired art to recognize the legacy of Americana music traditions. Replicas of the awards will be showcased at the museum, which is scheduled to open in early 2020 in downtown Nashville.
Giddens has shared this dedication throughout her highly lauded career by carrying on the underrepresented origins of African roots music and breathing new life into its deep history. In the US, her work traces a lineage of string music back to the late Johnson, who became the first African American to publish sheet music, composing well over 200 published pieces. Yet, the formative fiddle musician and his contributions have largely been forgotten in the context of musical history after his passing in the mid-1800s, so much so that even locating an identifying photo is seemingly virtually impossible. The Legacy of Americana Award aims to shine a light on both of these musicians' unparalleled influences on American roots music.
"African American artists play pivotal roles in the tapestry of Americana music," said H. Beecher Hicks III, CEO and President of NMAAM. "Through the Legacy of Americana Award and our new partnership with the Association, we hope to shine a light on forgotten artists like Frank Johnson, whose stories may have been lost to history, and on innovators like Rhiannon Giddens, who is pushing Americana and American music forward by exploring the past."
"We are honored to partner with the National
Museum of African American Music
and present the first Legacy of Americana Award to Rhiannon Giddens and Frank Johnson," said Jed Hilly, Executive Director
of the Americana Music
Association. "Without a legacy, art would not outlive its creator. These two exemplary artists embody the spirit of this award. Furthermore, it is imperative to continue celebrating those who have made lasting impressions or have inspired art that recognizes the legacy of Americana music traditions, and this honor is a rightful step in the direction of preserving that history."
NMAAM, set to open in early 2020 in Nashville, is dedicated to educating, preserving and honoring the legacy of African Americans and their contributions to music. With over 1,400 artifacts already collected, NMAAM will be the only museum in the world whose mission is solely focused on black music. For more information, visit nmaam.org.
Described by Emmylou Harris
as "the shining star of Nashville and music everywhere," the association's Americana Honors & Awards serves as the hallmark event of AmericanaFest, September
10-15 in Nashville. In addition to Rhiannon Giddens' two nominations this year—for Artist of the Year and her group Our Native Daughters for Duo/Group of the Year—Yola has been nominated as Emerging Act of the Year, and her Dan Auerbach-produced debut album, Walk Through Fire, has been nominated for Album of the Year. Punch Brothers guitarist Chris "Critter" Eldridge has been nominated as Instrumentalist of the Year. Tickets for the Americana Honors & Awards are exclusively available for purchase by AmericanaFest Conference Registrants at americanamusic.org.