We presented the International Folk Music Awards on February 1, 2023, at our conference in Kansas City, MO. We announced the winners of the 2022 Best Of Awards and celebrated the recipients of the 2023 Clearwater, Spirit of Folk, Rising Tide, People’s Voice, and Lifetime Achievement Awards!
If you missed it, the entire show was livestreamed here!
Best of 2022 Winners
The following are the winners for the 2022 Artist, Album, and Song of the Year. This shortlist is based on US, Canadian, and international industry year-end lists as well as folk DJ airplay. Winners are determined by the voting membership of FAI and the results werE announced during the International Folk Music Awards on February 1 at the Folk Alliance International Conference.
Artist of the Year
Clearwater Award Recipient (sponsored by Levitt Foundation)
Shambala Festival is a four-day contemporary performing arts festival in Northamptonshire, England. The festival is completely and utterly committed to being sustainable, circular, regenerative, net positive, earth and life respecting, and future thinking. They have reduced the festival’s carbon footprint by over 90%; achieved 100% renewable electricity; became meat, fish, and dairy-milk free; and eradicated single-use plastics. They’ve received many awards for their sustainability work, including the Innovation Award at the 2018 UK Festival Awards, the International A Greener Festival Award, the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Creative Green Awards in 2017, and more. The festival is Creative Green Certified and has committed to measuring and transparently reporting all of their impacts to provide an honest evaluation of their efforts. They work with independent third parties like Julie’s Bicycle to assess their performance and carbon footprint. Learn more about the festival and their work at shambalafestival.org.
Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients
Janis Ian is a music icon whose songs and performances have resonated with the public for over five decades. Much of her music has poignantly focused on social issues, as Ian is a pioneer of both confessional singer-songwriters’ music and social protest. Her first hit, “Society’s Child” — written when she was just fourteen — spoke empathetically about interracial romance, and her indelible song “At Seventeen” remains the anthem for “ugly duckling girls” maligned by false beauty standards. Her music defies easy categorization, with albums like “Stars” and “Between the Lines” becoming classics in both the adult contemporary and folk rock idioms. Ian was also a pioneer of artist-run labels with her Rude Girl Records and, after coming out with her groundbreaking 1993 album “Breaking Silence”, she’s been a beacon for LGBTQIA+ awareness in the folk community. Ian has just retired from performing, making this the perfect time to honor this living legend.
Josh White (1914-1969)
Josh White was an immensely talented guitarist and singer who had a prolific and greatly influential output of Piedmont and country blues music over a 40-year span. He was the most popular and influential Black folk singer of the 1930s and 1940s and one of the most prominent Black celebrities in any field. Originally a blues artist slotted into the “race records” category, he became a major star through his appearances at New York’s Café Society, on Broadway, and in films. He was the first Black singer to give a White House command performance (1941), to perform in previously segregated hotels (1942), to get a million-selling record (“One Meatball”, 1944), and the first to make a solo concert tour of America (1945). White had a profound influence musically on hundreds of artists of different genres. In particular, his songs of social protest, which were grounded in personal experience growing up in Jim Crow South Carolina, had a huge impact not only on performers like Harry Belafonte and Odetta, but on politicians like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was inspired by White to begin exploring how to desegregate the U.S. armed forces. Often overlooked in histories of folk music due both to his cabaret-singer style and his decision to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s — though he did not name anyone as a Communist — White nonetheless remains a titan of not only folk music but American culture in general.
Oh Boy Records was founded by the late John Prine, Al Bunetta, and Dan Einstein in 1980 when, after moving to Nashville, Prine decided he wanted to be a genuinely independent artist. It’s rare that an artist-founded record label becomes iconic, but Oh Boy arguably did as it not only was a main marketing vehicle for most of John Prine’s recordings (he being one of the founders), it has also promoted and nurtured the careers of other very notable singer-songwriters such as Kris Kristofferson, Todd Snider, and Janis Ian. From the beginning, Oh Boy has evolved to be not only a powerful example of one artist taking charge of his career, but a hub for creative and independent-minded musicians in Nashville and beyond. In the 2010s the label experienced a renaissance largely through the efforts of Prine’s wife, Fiona, and son Jody Whelan, signing some of the most exciting new voices in folk and Americana music: Tré Burt, Kelsey Waldon, Arlo McKinley, and Emily Scott Robinson. Oh Boy is a strong presence in the Nashville music scene, a home for those who cannot or don’t want to play the bigger label game, and a model for anyone doing the music business thing in the 21st century.
The People’s Voice Award Recipient
As an artist, Leyla McCalla has always traveled through time and space, opening the channels between lost or hidden touchstones of roots music and the present day. As a member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Our Native Daughters and in her solo work, the multi-instrumentalist and composer bring immediacy to long lost stories and shows how they survive and adapt through the flexible agents of rhythm, language, and intimate human connection. Her work is political and warmly welcoming, cerebral, and highly danceable. Based in New Orleans after growing up in a Haitian family in New York, McCalla makes music that adds detail to music’s maps and gives voice to people whose struggles and triumphs define its diasporic evolution. In 2022 she released the album “Breaking the Thermometer”, the culmination of her most complex project yet — a multimedia performance telling the story of the first independent radio station in Haiti. “Breaking the Thermometer” made Best of 2022 lists at NPR Music, PopMatters, and Mojo, in addition to former President Barack Obama’s list of favorite music for 2022.
Rising Tide Award Recipient
Alisa Amador points folk music toward its future — a future that’s cosmopolitan, multifaceted, and multilingual; qualities that have in fact been at the community’s heart all along. Amador, who comes from a folk music family, grew up in Boston, Maine, Puerto Rico, and Argentina, and her songs show the influence of all of those places. A native Spanish speaker who’s spent most of her life in the States, Amador moves easefully between the two languages in her songwriting. As a high schooler, she studied jazz, and is known for sometimes scatting during performances. Amador’s ability to blend all of these influences within sharply rendered yet gently flowing songs helped her win NPR Music’s prestigious Tiny Desk Contest and Folk Artist of the Year at the Boston Music Awards.
Spirit of Folk
Steve Edge has been presenting folk music in Vancouver as a DJ on CITR since 1985, and concerts and festivals throughout the city since 1986, initially independently, and then as a co-founder of The Rogue Folk Club in 1987 where he continues to present Celtic, folk, and roots music as its artistic director. Steve was an inaugural member of FAI in 1989, is an inductee into the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame, and a recipient of the Unsung Hero award from the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Amy Reitnouer Jacobs
Amy Reitnouer Jacobs is the co-founder and executive director of The Bluegrass Situation, an online music magazine and promoter of roots, folk, and Americana music and culture. She joined the board of FAI in 2015 and was instrumental in refining and codifying the recruitment process for board elections as chair of the Nominations Committee. Amy served as board president through the pandemic, and supported FAI’s recent strategic plan and executive director transition.
Marcy Marxer is the creator of All Wigged Out, a poignant and witty musical theatre production (and now film) recounting her harrowing triumph over breast cancer. Painfully funny, it is an example of the power of music and humor to inform and heal. Marxer, along with her partner Cathy Fink, is a two-time GRAMMY Award winner and eleven-time nominee, and together they have been recognized with over 60 Washington Area Music Association Awards for their folk, bluegrass, and children’s music recordings.
Adrian Sabogal is an acclaimed musician, producer, and researcher who founded Marimbea, an organization dedicated to the well-being of the Afro-Colombian communities from the country’s South Pacific coast. By arranging music-centered cultural tourism excursions, Marimbea strives to generate alternative sources of income, knowledge exchanges, and support networks for artists in marginalized and remote communities. Adrian’s work has had an impact on the economic development in the region, and the preservation of a vibrant and unique musical tradition.
Pat Mitchell Worley
Pat Mitchell Worley is the President and CEO of the Memphis-based Soulsville Foundation, which oversees the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy, and The Soulsville Charter School, all with a mission to perpetuate the soul of Stax Records. She is the long-time co-host of Beale Street Caravan, a syndicated roots radio show broadcast, and she regularly hosts artist Q&As for the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi and Oxford American. She is a former development director for the Memphis Music Foundation, and a past employee of the Blues Foundation.
Folk DJ Hall of Fame
The Folk DJ Hall of Fame was established to recognize radio DJs who have made an outstanding contribution to the preservation, promotion, and presentation of folk music, and who have demonstrated and inspired leadership in the broadcast field. Inducted DJs include the following:
Robert Resnik has been the host of All the Traditions, Vermont Public Radio’s folk and world music program, since 1996. Hooked on music since the 1960s, Robert previously spent many years on-air at WRUV at the University of Vermont. All the Traditions is as eclectic as Robert’s musical taste, but is dedicated to promoting music created by people living in the VPR broadcast area, which includes all of Vermont and parts of New Hampshire, New York, and Quebec. Robert also plays more than 25 instruments, and has performed and recorded CDs with a variety of musical combos for kids and adults.
Marilyn Rea Beyer
Marilyn Rea Beyer hosted her first concert in junior high as the school band emcee. She got on board The Midnight Special listening to WFMT as a Chicago teenager. She has had careers in education, PR, and high tech. In 1995, Marilyn became on-air host and music director at Boston’s premiere folk station, WUMB-FM, and served on the board of the legendary Club Passim. Returning to Chicago, Marilyn joined WFMT in 2020, hosting The Midnight Special and now Folkstage. The Midnight Special launched in 1953 and maintained legendary status under Rich Warren’s stewardship. She says that judicious risk-taking, nurturing artists, and falling in love with new music make the job fun.
John Platt has hosted the Sunday Supper (formerly Sunday Breakfast) for 25 years at WFUV New York, and has curated On Your Radar, a monthly showcase for emerging artists at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC for 17 years. He has founded the not-for-profit New Folk Initiative, which has extensive resources for the folk community at newfolk.org. He began his career at WMMR Philadelphia in 1969, programmed WXRT Chicago and WRVR New York, worked at WNEW-FM and WNYC, and produced national radio programs.
Harry B. Soria Jr.
Harry B. Soria Jr. was known as a radio personality and walking encyclopedia of Hawaiian music history. The musicologist, award-winning liner notes writer, and record producer was the son of prominent local broadcaster and songwriter Harry B. Soria Sr. Ironically, Harry B.’s interest in Hawaiian music was sparked by hearing “cool” old records far from Hawaiian shores while at college in San Francisco. Upon returning to Hawai’i, he bonded with his dad over his vintage Hawaiian records. Harry B.’s passion for music from this period led to guest spots on KCCN in 1976 and his weekly “Territorial Airwaves” radio show of recordings from his personal collection. In 2019, Territorial Airwaves became the longest running Hawaiian music show in radio history. Soria’s record collection and archives are being donated to the Hawaii State Archives.