A Year Of GRAMMY Firsts For Americana
I was honored to fulfill my third year as the Americana GRAMMY.com Community Blogger. GRAMMY Week proved to be another unique experience leading up to Music's Biggest Night, beginning with Play It Forward, the GRAMMY Foundation's 15th Annual Music Preservation Project, the Social Media Rock Stars Summit, the Pre-Telecast Ceremony, and concluding with the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Behind a trail of tweets, instagrams and Facebook posts, I reflected performances, conversations, insights, camaraderie, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, all through an Americana lens.
The Pre-Telecast Ceremony served up a heavy listing of awards for Americana acts. Folk/rock artists were awarded in the Best Long Form Music Video category, with the trophy going to Big Easy Express, a documentary that traces the 2011 Railroad Revival Tour featuring Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show. Steep Canyon Rangers picked up their first GRAMMY for Best Bluegrass Album for Nobody Knows You. Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile picked up a GRAMMY for Best Folk Album for The Goat Rodeo Sessions. The album also won in the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical category.
Taylor Swift was on hand with producer T Bone Burnett and the Civil Wars to receive the GRAMMY for Best Song Written For Visual Media for "Safe & Sound" from The Hunger Games.
Clad in black, John Fullbright performed a rousing version of "Gawd Above" from his Best Americana Album-nominated From The Ground Up. But when the winner was announced in that category, Bonnie Raitt took the prize for Slipstream and walked away with her 10th GRAMMY. Speaking with Fullbright later, the newcomer showed a maturity beyond his 24 years by remarking, "There's no one I'd rather lose to."
The GRAMMY telecast supplied many instances of Americana representation. Best New Artist nominees the Lumineers had the crowd dancing and singing along to their hit "Ho Hey." Resplendent in a rhinestone peacock feather creation by Manuel, Jack White began with his all-female band (appropriately called the Peacocks) to deliver a rustically languid rendition of "Love Interruption," from his Album Of The Year and Best Rock Album-nominated Blunderbuss. White then moved to his wild side with his boys, the Buzzards, for a flailing and feedback-drenched "Freedom At 21."
Mumford & Sons performed "I Will Wait" under lights strung from the ceiling of Staples Center that were reminiscent of those in their "Little Lion Man" video. Last year's big GRAMMY winner and fellow British artist Adele awarded the band the GRAMMY for Album Of The Year for their sophomore effort, Babel.
The highlight for me came during the In Memoriam portion of the telecast. The great Levon Helm was honored with a passionate performance of the Band's "The Weight" by Elton John, Mumford & Sons, Mavis Staples, Zac Brown, and Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard. The tribute also featured Burnett, who served as musical director. Helm died in 2012 at age 71 after battling cancer.
It was another stellar year of GRAMMY firsts for the American Roots Field.