Art and music are just two out of the many ways that people are able to express themselves and stand out from the crowd. It allows us to shown how we see the world differently compared to the way the person sitting next to us see’s the world. The Americana Music Association is one example of how people changed the way they saw the world based off of music.
Starting in the late 1990s, the Americana Music Association has helped form young aspiring musicians into big time artists. It has helped American music roots assume an elevated and secure place in the artistic and commercial life of the nation. The Recording Academy added the category of “Best Americana Album” in 2009 and has ever since been a refuge for new upcoming aspiring artists and musicians to be noticed by the big name producers. Today, Americana is one of the best selling music genres according to Billboard’s Top 20 album charts. A group of 30 volunteers from radios and record labels gathered for a conference in Austin Texas to discuss what could better help the Americana community and possibly a trade association. Finally, in October of 1999, the Americana Music Association was born.
The Americana Honors and Awards were added to the convention and the evening proved inspirational and historic movements. Americana icons Emmylou Harris, Billy Joe Shaver, and T Bone Burnett were given lifetime achievement awards for performing, songwriting, and executive achievement, respectively. Early the following year, the Association hosted its first annual Americana Night at South by Southwest, and then in September of 2000, the Americana Music Association held its first convention at the Hilton Suites in downtown Nashville. Johnny Cash accepted the AMA’s first-ever “Spirit of Americana” Free Speech Award with a stunning recitation of his song-poem “Ragged Old Flag,” and then, despite his failing health, he and June (his wife) led their family band through a set of songs that reached back through time. It turned out to be the last public performance the Cash’s would ever give together.
In response, the organization formally changed the name of its event to the Americana Music Festival and Conference, welcoming not just those in the business, but anyone with a passion for music. By 2008, the event had expanded to four days, moved its Awards Show to the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville Tennessee, and attracted nearly 1,000 industry professionals, plus a cumulative total of over 12,000 visitors for the nighttime showcases. International medias have taken notice as well, including Paste journalist Geoffrey Himes to declare the Americana Honors, “the best awards show in the world,” and noted author Ann Patchett, writing for the New York Times, proclaimed the Americana movement as “the coolest music scene today.”