Categories, Eligibility, and Selection Process


IBMA Distinguished Achievement Awards honor those individuals and organizations in bluegrass music who have proven to be forerunners in their particular field of endeavor and have fostered bluegrass music’s image with developments that will broaden the music’s recognition and accessibility. The awards extended to individuals for their contributions shall fall into specific categories and are especially appropriate when they provide acclaim for those not recognized by other IBMA Award categories.



Performing artists, musical groups, songwriters, side/session musicians


Authors, journalists (print and/or electronic), broadcasters (radio, television, podcast, internet, etc.), photographers, videographers, graphic designers


Promoters, publicists, music publishers, booking agents, managers, record labels, producers, recording engineers, sound reinforcement, luthiers


International organizers, association leaders, historians, folklorists, friends of the music, philanthropists, arts administrators, educators (music teachers, instructional programs, workshops, camps, online lessons, etc.) and other innovators and contributors.

Selection Process

The Distinguished Achievement Awards Committee selects one individual from each of the four categories for recognition. They may choose to select an additional individual each year in the General category.

Candidates for the Distinguished Achievement are judged on their contributions to or influence upon bluegrass music, whether in general or in a specific branch of the industry. Their contributions should be unique, given the relative period of time in which they were made. They should embody the spirit of one who “pioneers” or opens new possibilities for the music. The Selection Committee is also urged to consider significant recent influences on the music as well as historic ones.


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