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IBMA bluegrass award nominations are announced. Could this be the year of the woman?

Molly Tuttle plays clawhammer guitar at Wide Open Bluegrass

IBMA Guitar Player of the Year Molly Tuttle plays clawhammer guitar during her show at Wide Open Bluegrass at Raleigh's Red Hat Amphitheater Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.
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IBMA Guitar Player of the Year Molly Tuttle plays clawhammer guitar during her show at Wide Open Bluegrass at Raleigh's Red Hat Amphitheater Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

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World of Bluegrass 2018

The International Bluegrass Music Association conference, awards ceremony, Bluegrass Ramble and World of Bluegrass is in Raleigh, NC, Sept. 25-29, 2018. Find our stories here.

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Women musicians will be front and center at this year’s International Bluegrass Music Association Awards ceremony.

In IBMA Award nominations announced Wednesday, fiddler Becky Buller and guitarist Molly Tuttle lead the field with six each. Both are also the first women ever to win instrumentalist of the year on their respective instruments — Tuttle last year and Buller in 2016 — and they’re in the field again this year.

In another sign of changing times and greater inclusiveness, 2018 also marks the first time that multiple women have been nominated for banjo player of the year — Gina Clowes from Chris Jones and Night Drivers, and Kristin Scott Benson from the Grascals.

Del McCoury, Special Consensus, Doyle Lawson and reigning entertainers of the year Earls of Leicester are among other artists scoring multiple IBMA Award nominations.

The awards will be presented Sept. 27 at Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium, with Hot Rize serving as this year’s host.

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The awards show is the final event of IBMA’s annual business convention, before the weekend Wide Open Bluegrass outdoor program. Bluegrass week, the sixth year in Raleigh, will be Sept. 25-29 and also includes the “Bluegrass Ramble” nightclub shows, and 2018 keynote speaker Jamie Dailey.

Tuttle and Buller are part of an all-female “Special Collaboration” during the weekend Wide Open Bluegrass program, in the closing headline slot Sept. 28 at Red Hat Amphitheater. Gillian Welch, mandolinist-of-the-year nominee Sierra Hull and Rhiannon Giddens are also on the bill.

As for North Carolina nominees, Heyward County quintet Balsam Range picked up four nominations for entertainer, vocal group, Buddy Melton as male vocalist and Tim Surrett as bassist. The group won entertainer and vocal group in 2014.

The Cherryville duo of Darin & Brooke Aldridge earned a pair of nominations, for female vocalist and gospel recorded performance.

Bryan Sutton of Asheville will pull double duty during the awards show. He’ll be among the hosts of the show with his bandmates in Hot Rize; and he’s also up for guitarist of the year, an award he has won 10 times since 2000.

Also on tap for the Sept. 27 awards show is the induction of three artists into the IBMA Hall of Fame: Ricky Skaggs, who headlines Saturday night’s Wide Open Bluegrass show at Red Hat Amphitheater; Paul Williams, who came to fame as one of the Sunny Mountain Boys with fellow Hall of Famers Jimmy Martin and J.D. Crowe; and songwriters Tom T. & Dixie Hall.

The complete nominees list is below.

Bluegrass star Del McCoury and his band run through a number in their dressing room backstage just before being called on stage at the IBMA Awards show in Raleigh, N.C..

In May, IBMA announced it had extended its contract with the city of Raleigh to keep the event here through 2021.

Last year’s World of Bluegrass events — business convention, nightclub performances, awards show and Wide Open Bluegrass — drew a total estimated attendance of more than 221,000. That generated $11.7 million in direct visitor spending, according to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB).

Since 2013, World of Bluegrass has drawn more than 856,000 people, leading to almost $49 million in direct visitor spending.

For ticket details, see WorldOfBluegrass.org.

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi

2018 IBMA Award nominees

Entertainer of the year: Balsam Range, Del McCoury Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Earls of Leicester, Gibson Brothers

Vocal group of the year: Balsam Range, Flatt Lonesome, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Gibson Brothers, I’m With Her

Instrumental group of the year: Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Sam Bush Band, Travelin’ McCourys, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Punch Brothers

Emerging artist of the year: Mile Twelve, Molly Tuttle, Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Billy Strings, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, Sister Sadie

Song of the year: “You Didn’t Call My Name” (Molly Tuttle), “Way Down the River Road” (Special Consensus, John Hartford), “Swept Away” (Missy Raines, Laurie Lewis), “If I’d Have Wrote That Song” (Joe Mullins & Radio Ramblers), “Calamity Jane” (Becky Buller, Tim Stafford)

Album of the year: “Rise” (Molly Tuttle), “The Story We Tell” (Joe Mullins & Radio Ramblers), “Rivers & Roads” (Special Consensus), “Mayhayley’s House” (Lonesome River Band), “Life Is a Story” (Doyle Lawson & Quicksliver)

Gospel recorded performance of the year: “Little Girl” (Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver), “When God’s in It” (Joe Mullins & Radio Ramblers), “Travelin’ Shoes” (Special Consensus), “Speakin’ to That Mountain” (Becky Buller), “I’m Going Under” (Darin & Brooke Aldridge)

Instrumental recorded performance of the year: “Squirrel Hunters” (Special Consensus), “Lynchburg Chicken Run” (Grascals), “Sirens” (Infamous Stringdusters), “Medley: Sally in the Garden/Big Country/Molly Put the Kettle On” (Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn), “Wickwire” (Mile Twelve)

Recorded event of the year: “She Took the Tennessee River” (Special Consensus with Bobby Osborne), “I’ll Just Go Away” (Dale Ann Bradley & Vince Gill), “Swept Away” (Missy Raines with Alison Brown, others), “Calamity Jane” (Becky Buller with Rhonda Vincent), “The Rebel and the Rose” (Becky Buller with Sam Bush)

Male vocalist of the year: Del McCoury, Tim O’Brien, Buddy Melton, Russell Moore, Shawn Camp

Female vocalist of the year: Brooke Aldridge, Molly Tuttle, Dale Ann Bradley, Rhonda Vincent, Becky Buller

Banjo player of the year: Gina Clowes, Kristin Scott Benson, Ned Luberecki, Noam Pikelny, Sammy Shelor

Bass player of the year: Missy Raines, Barry Bales, Mike Bub, Mark Schatz, Tim Surrett

Fiddler player of the year: Michael Cleveland, Jason Carter, Stuart Duncan, Becky Buller, Hunter Berry

Dobro player of the year: Rob Ickes, Jerry Douglas, Justin Moses, Andy Hall, Phil Leadbetter

Guitar player of the year: Molly Tuttle, Bryan Sutton, Josh Williams, Billy Strings, Kenny Smith

Mandolin player of the year: Sierra Hull, Sam Bush, Ronnie McCoury, Jesse Brock, Frank Solivan

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