The hosts and performers have been announced for the 31st annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards, set to livestream on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. ET. The show will air on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction channel and will livestream on IBMA’s Facebook Live and via Swapcard.
Sierra Hull, Joe Newberry, Tim O’Brien and Rhonda Vincent will share hosting and presenter duties over the course of the two-hour show. The event will featured taped and virtual performances and presentations from artists including the 2019 “Entertainer of the Year” Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, as well as Brooke Aldridge, Balsam Range, Kristin Scott Benson, Blue Highway, Dale Ann Bradley, Gena Britt, Katy Daley, Gina Furtado, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Ned Luberecki, Sister Sadie, Amanda Smith, Special Consensus, Billy Strings, Bryan Sutton, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, The Travelin’ McCourys, Molly Tuttle, Scott Vestal, Jake Workman, and more, with additional performances to be announced.
In addition to taped and virtual performances from all six Entertainer of the Year nominees, the show will feature Del McCoury Band performing a classic Bill Monroe song onstage at the Ryman Auditorium, in honor of the 75th anniversary of bluegrass. An opening number will recreate that night 75 years ago when Flatt and Scruggs joined Monroe on stage at the Ryman Auditorium.
In a tribute to Doc Watson, his longtime band mate T. Michael Coleman is joined by all five “Guitar Player of the Year” nominees for a rousing “Black Mountain Rag.” In a tribute to J.D. Crowe, his ex-band member Jerry Douglas has collected an amazing lineup of IBMA royalty, including all five banjo nominees, joined by Douglas, Sam Bush, Missy Raines and David Grier.
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper will perform a song from the fiddling virtuoso’s 2020 Grammy-winning album Tall Fiddler. Taj Mahal will join virtually from Northern California, teaming with Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, and nominated sidemen Mike Bub and Stuart Duncan, performing at the Ryman, for “Sittin’ on Top of the World.” Becky Buller, Missy Raines and Alison Brown will perform an original hymn by Buller, “Take Me Over Jordan,” for the “In Memoriam” segment.
To salute women in bluegrass history and the 20th anniversary of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, four female nominees (including host Rhonda Vincent) will do the a cappella “Down to the River to Pray” from the groundbreaking project.
“This show has been a pleasure to produce,” said Joanne Gardner Lowell, producer of this year’s Awards show. “When I started talking with the IBMA earlier this year, we were Raleigh bound. I’ve been so impressed by how eager all of the IBMA team and the performers have been to pivot and create an entirely new program with virtual aspects. It’s a testament to how the people in the bluegrass community are focused on pulling together to make lemonade out of the large crate of lemons we’ve all been handed this year.”
The IBMA and its Local Organizing Committee partners in Raleigh, North Carolina have determined that, due to ongoing health concerns relating to COVID-19 and the logistical challenges of creating a safe in-person event experience, this year’s IBMA World of Bluegrass will take place virtually. The planned conference, showcases, awards and festival performances will be presented as an online experience September 28-Oct. 3.
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