Balsam Range is the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year, unseating perennial reigning champion The Earls of Leicester at the IBMA Awards Thursday night.
The Haywood County quintet took home two other IBMA Awards with Buddy Melton named male vocalist of the year and Tim Surrett in the bassist category. Balsam Range previously won Entertainer of the Year in 2014, before the Earls began their three-year streak.
Hot Rize hosted the ceremony at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, capping off the IBMA’s annual conference. Friday will kick off the Wide Open Bluegrass part of the week, with concerts through Saturday around downtown Raleigh.
Brooke Aldridge from Cherryville won female vocalist of the year for the second straight year. Also repeating were Molly Tuttle as guitar player for the second straight year, and Sierra Hull as mandolin player for the third straight year.
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The winner of Recorded Event of the Year is “Swept Away,” with Missy Raines, Alison Brown, Becky Buller, Hull and Tuttle. The artists will perform Friday night at Wide Open Bluegrass at Red Hat Amphitheater as part of a First Ladies of Bluegrass collaboration. All have won their respective instrument of the year awards.
Meanwhile, three performers were inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame: bluegrass-country singer Ricky Skaggs; 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.
During the IBMA’s Special Awards program earlier in the day, Distinguished Achievement Awards went to Chris Thile of Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek, George Gruhn, Christopher Howard-Williams, Curtis McPeake and Walter Saunders.
Here is the complete list of winners:
▪ Entertainer of the Year: Balsam Range
▪ Vocal group of the Year: Doyle Lawson & Quicksliver
▪ Song of the Year: “If I’d Have Wrote That Song” (written by Larry Cordle, Larry Shell and James Silvers)
▪ Album of the Year: “Rivers & Roads,” Special Consensus
▪ Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year: Becky Buller, “Speakin’ to That Mountain”
▪ Instrumental Recorded Performance: “Squirrel Hunters,” Special Consensus
▪ Emerging Artist of the Year: Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
▪ Recorded Event of the Year: “Swept Away,” Missy Raines with Alison Brown, Becky BUller, Sierra Hull and Molly Tuttle
▪ Female vocalist of the year: Brooke Aldridge (Darin & Brooke Aldridge)
▪ Male vocalist of the year: Buddy Melton (Balsam Range)
▪ Banjo player of the year: Ned Luberecki (Becky Buller Band, Nedski & Mojo)
▪ Bass player of the year: Tim Surrett (Balsam Range)
▪ Dobro player of the year: Justin Moses
▪ Fiddle player of the year: Michael Cleveland
▪ Guitar player of the year: Molly Tuttle
▪ Mandolin player of the year: Sierra Hull
▪ Bluegrass songwriter: Jerry Salley
▪ Best sound engineer: Ben Surratt