Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle Win Top Honors at International Folk Awards, as Tracy Chapman Gets Lifetime Achievement Honor

Billy Strings, the group Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway, and Iris DeMent won top competitive honors at the International Folk Music Awards, handed out in a ceremony Wednesday night in Kansas City, Missouri as part of the annual Folk Alliance International Conference.

Strings was named artist of the year, while “City of Gold,” from Tuttle and Golden Highway, was awarded album of the year honors. Veteran singer-songwriter prevailed in the song of the year category for “Workin’ on a World.”

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Among those receiving honorary awards for their body of work were Tracy Chapman, Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Segarra, Chilean songwriter Victor Jara and the intimate Southern California concert spot and guitar shop McCabe’s.

Chapman, who has stayed out of the limelight during the recent resurgence of “Fast Car,” apart from a Grammy Awards duet with Luke Combs, did not appear but sent a message of thanks, saying, “I would like to thank the Folk Alliance International for this unexpected Lifetime Achievement Award. I am honored to be in the company of your highly esteemed previous awardees. Wishing you continued success with your mission.”

Joy Clark, who performs as a solo artist as well as part of Allison Russell’s band, paid tribute to Chapman in song at the ceremony. Willie Watson and Malena Cadiz performed a salute to McCabe’s, while Mireya Ramos did the musical tribute to Jara.

Inductees into the Folk Radio Hall of Fame celebrated as part of the event included Folk Alley’s Linda Fahey, Jan Vanderhorst, Mountain Stage founder Larry Groce, New York City air personality Bob Sherman and Celtic music ambassador Brian O’Donovan.

As the Folk Alliance International Conference continues through Saturday, Peter Paul & Mary member Noel Paul Stookey, Grammy winner Lucy Kalantari and National Music Publishers Association CEO David Israelite will give keynote addresses, while Segarra participates in a Q&A with NPR’s Ann Powers.

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