Traditional artists along the Blue Ridge Music Trails of NC took home the big prizes at the annual IBMA’s (International Bluegrass Music Association) annual awards show.
Balsam Range of Haywood County were awarded Best Vocal Group of the year and the prestigious Entertainers of the Year award. Buddy Melton, who plays fiddle and sings in BR, took home the highly regarded Male Vocalist of the Year award. Tim Surrett was awarded the IBMA Momentum Award for Mentor of the year.
“Music is a very powerful thing, it speaks to people, it’s the universal language, and there’s a responsibility with that when you get to the level we’re at,” Melton said. “People connect to your music and they tell you their life story, and it brings awareness to what we’re doing. We’re impacting people’s lives and they’re impacting ours — that’s a pretty special thing.”
Guitarist, Bryan Sutton from Candler, was awarded Guitar Player of the Year for the 8th time. Another Haywood County talent, Bryan McDowell, was featured during the awards ceremony playing with the Claire Lynch Band.
The IBMA Youth Council sponsors a Kids on Bluegrass event throughout the week of the IBMA conference. Young folks between 12 and 17 audition to be selected for the program. All of the future stars play together throughout the event, many on a variety of instruments.
On Friday and Saturday, bands made of the players performed on the Youth Stage and the Davie Street Stage. Musicians came from California, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee and from right here along the Blue Ridge Music Trails of NC.
Featured players included sisters Carley and Autumn Arrowood from Rutherford County, Jonah Horton from Wilkes County, Jacob Grier from Jefferson, and brothers Walt & Noah Williams from Lewisville. This was the stage to watch for the next Tim O’Brien and Alison Krauss. Well done folks!