When Tyler Childers was named Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2018 Americana Honors & Awards, he let loose with an acceptance speech for the ages, denying the very term “Americana” and pointedly declaring himself a country artist.
“As a man who identifies as a country music singer, I feel Americana ain’t no part of nothin’,” he said onstage at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium that year. “It is a distraction from the issues that we are facing on a bigger level as country music singers.”
Despite that sharply worded speech, Childers won his second Americana award Wednesday night at the 22nd annual Americana Honors, taking home Album of the Year for Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?, a triple album of eight songs, each recorded three times in different styles. Childers beat out albums by Angel Olsen, Hermanos Gutiérrez, Charley Crockett, and Margo Price. The Kentucky country singer, who just released the new album Rustin’ in the Rain, was not on hand to accept. Silas House, the poet laureate of Kentucky who wrote the treatment for Childers’ music video for “In Your Love,” accepted on his behalf.
Billy Strings was the night’s other big winner, repeating as Artist of the Year. Strings, who recently shared the stage with Brandi Carlile at the Bourbon & Beyond Festival in Louisville, was presented the award by Jim Lauderdale. The War and Treaty also repeated. The husband-and-wife pairing of Michael Trotter and Tanya Blount Trotter were named winners in the Duo/Group of the Year category for a second consecutive year.
Notable performances included Adeem the Artist, who sang “Middle of a Heart” while wearing the white suit Childers wore to the show in 2018. (A rep for Adeem confirmed that Childers gifted the songwriter the suit.)
Logan Ledger opened the Americana Honors with “Come Monday” as a tribute to Jimmy Buffett, who died earlier this month at 76. For the finale, the house band — led by Buddy Miller and featuring aces like Cat Popper on bass and drummer Fred Eltringham — and an all-star cast including Strings, Margo Price, and S.G. Goodman saluted the Band’s Robbie Robertson, who died in August, with a version of “Up on Cripple Creek.”
Patty Griffin and Allison Russell each received special awards. Sarah Silverman presented Griffin with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, while the Democratic legislators known as the “Tennessee Three” — Justin Jones, Justin Pearson, and Gloria Johnson — presented Russell with the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award.
S.G. Goodman, whose song “Space and Time” Childers recorded for his new album, was named Emerging Act of the Year.
2023 Americana Honors and Awards winners list:
Album of the Year: Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?, Tyler Childers; Produced by Tyler Childers
Artist of the Year: Billy Strings
Duo/Group of the Year: The War and Treaty
Emerging Act of the Year: S.G. Goodman
Song of the Year: “Just Like That,” Bonnie Raitt; Written by Bonnie Raitt
Instrumentalist of the Year: SistaStrings
Legacy of Americana Award (in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music: Bettye Lavette
Trailblazer Award: The Avett Brothers, Nickel Creek
Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting: Patty Griffin
Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award: Allison Russell
Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement for Executive: George Fontaine Sr.