Due to a tie, there are six nominees for “Entertainer of the Year”:
Balsam Range, Billy Strings, Del McCoury Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Sister Sadie, and Special Consensus

IBMA Announces 2020 Annual Inductees to the
Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame: New Grass Revival, The Johnson Mountain Boys, and J.T. Gray, Owner of Nashville’s World Famous Station Inn.

Five Bluegrass Industry Innovators Announced as Recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award

Nashville, TN, June 26, 2020 –Nominees for the 31st Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards were announced today in Nashville, Tennessee. Due to a tie in the voting, there are six nominees (instead of five) for “Entertainer of the Year” in 2020: Balsam Range, Billy Strings, Del McCoury Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Sister Sadie, and Special Consensus.  The six nominees for this year’s top award include two revered Hall of Fame members (Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson), past EoY winners (Balsam Range, Del McCoury), the first “Entertainer of the Year” nomination for Billy Strings, Special Consensus and Sister Sadie, and the first time a group composed of all female performers – Sister Sadie –  has been nominated for this top award. The IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards will be broadcast on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction on Thursday, October 1; additional details about the broadcast will be announced in the coming weeks.

Also announced today were three inductees into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame: owner of Nashville’s iconic Station Inn, J.T. Gray; hardcore bluegrass traditionalists The Johnson Mountain Boys; and one of the premier bands at the forefront of the contemporary/progressive bluegrass movements of the 1970s and ’80s New Grass Revival. Additionally, the following were named as recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award: festival pioneers Norman & Judy Adams, “Musicians Against Childhood Cancer” (MACC) founders Darrel & Phyllis Adkins, fiddle virtuoso/educator Darol Anger, San Diego’s KSON “Bluegrass Special” host Wayne Rice, and bluegrass innovator Jack Tottle.

“Congratulations to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, Distinguished Achievement Awards recipients, and Music Awards nominees! All of you have been selected by your peers for your excellence this past year – or over a lifetime – in bluegrass music,” said Paul Schiminger, Executive Director of IBMA.  “While we wish we could be in Raleigh to celebrate each of your achievements in person, we are preparing a special awards show to be aired on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction and streamed for those who want to watch the program. We will be announcing more details in the weeks ahead, so please stay tuned!”

Earlier this month, the IBMA and its Local Organizing Committee partners in Raleigh, North Carolina announced that due to ongoing health concerns relating to COVID-19, and the logistical challenges of creating a safe in-person event experience, this year’s IBMA World of Bluegrass will take place virtually. The planned conference, showcases, awards and festival performances will be presented as an online experience September 28-Oct. 3, with the possibility of extending event content beyond those dates.

IBMA is actively working to develop innovative, compelling activities and content for this year’s event, and will be releasing information and updates throughout the summer. As additional details about the Awards Show and other IBMA World of Bluegrass 2020 virtual events  are determined, they will be shared across the organization’s social media platforms, through email notification, and on and Updates will also be available via social media platforms and email newsletters of Raleigh partners, including PineCone, the Raleigh Convention Center, and Visit Raleigh.

Awards are voted on by the professional membership of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), the professional nonprofit association for the bluegrass music industry.

For more information about the IBMA’s awards or how to obtain a recording of the IBMA Awards Show for rebroadcast, please go to

Balsam Range
Billy Strings
Del McCoury Band
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Sister Sadie
Special Consensus

Balsam Range
Blue Highway
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Sister Sadie
Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
Mile Twelve
Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
Sam Bush Band
The Travelin’ McCourys

Chicago Barn Dance
Artist: Special Consensus
Label: Compass Records
Producer: Alison Brown

Artist: Billy Strings
Label: Rounder Records
Producer: Glenn Brown

Live in Prague, Czech Republic
Artist: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producers: Doyle Lawson and Rosta Capek

New Moon Over My Shoulder
Artist: Larry Sparks
Label: Rebel Records
Producer: Larry Sparks

Tall Fiddler
Artist: Michael Cleveland
Label: Compass Records
Producers: Jeff White, Michael Cleveland, and Sean Sullivan

Toil, Tears & Trouble
Artist: The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
Label: Rounder Records
Producer: Dave Maggard

Artist: Appalachian Road Show
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producers: Jim VanCleve, Barry Abernathy, and Appalachian Road Show

“Both Ends of the Train”
Artist: Blue Highway
Writers: Tim Stafford/Steve Gulley
Label: Rounder Records
Producers: Blue Highway

“Chicago Barn Dance”
Artist: Special Consensus with Michael Cleveland & Becky Buller
Writers: Becky Buller/Missy Raines/Alison Brown
Label: Compass Records
Producer: Alison Brown

Artist: The Grascals
Writer: Harley Allen
Label: Mountain Home Music Company
Producers: The Grascals

“Hickory, Walnut & Pine”
Artist: The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys
Writers: Slaid Cleaves/Nathan Hamilton
Label: Rounder Records
Producer: Dave Maggard

“Living Like There’s No Tomorrow”
Artist: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Writers: Jim McBride/Roger Alan Murrah
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producers: Doyle Lawson and Rosta Capek

“Angel Too Soon”
Artist: Balsam Range
Label: Mountain Home Music Company
Producers: Balsam Range

“Because He Loved Me”
Artist: Dale Ann Bradley
Label: Pinecastle Records
Producer: Dale Ann Bradley

“Gonna Rise and Shine”
Artist: Alan Bibey & Grasstowne
Label: Mountain Fever Records
Producer: Mark Hodges

“I’m Going to Heaven”
Artist: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producers: Doyle Lawson and Rosta Capek

“Little Black Train”
Artist: Appalachian Road Show
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producers: Barry Abernathy, Darrell Webb, and Ben Isaacs

“Tall Fiddler”
Artist: Michael Cleveland with Tommy Emmanuel
Label: Compass Records
Producers: Jeff White, Michael Cleveland, and Sean Sullivan

“Shenandoah Breakdown”
Artist: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producers: Doyle Lawson and Rosta Capek

“Soldier’s Joy”
Artist: Jesse McReynolds with Michael Cleveland
Label: Pinecastle Records
Producer: Jesse McReynolds

“The Appalachian Road”
Artist: Appalachian Road Show
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producer: Jim VanCleve, Barry Abernathy, and Appalachian Road Show

“Guitar Peace”
Artist: Billy Strings
Label: Rounder Records
Producer: Glenn Brown

Appalachian Road Show
Carolina Blue
High Fidelity
Merle Monroe
Mile Twelve

“Chicago Barn Dance”
Artists: Special Consensus with Michael Cleveland & Becky Buller
Label: Compass Records
Producer: Alison Brown

“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
Artists: Jason Barie featuring Del McCoury & Paul Williams
Label: Billy Blue Records
Producer: Jason Barie

“Tall Fiddler”
Artists: Michael Cleveland with Tommy Emmanuel
Label: Compass Records
Producers: Jeff White, Michael Cleveland, and Sean Sullivan

“The Barber’s Fiddle”
Artists: Becky Buller with Shawn Camp, Jason Carter, Laurie Lewis, Kati Penn, Sam Bush, Michael Cleveland, Johnny Warren, Stuart Duncan, Deanie Richardson, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Jason Barie, Fred Carpenter, Tyler Andal, Nate Lee, Dan Boner, Brian Christianson, and Laura Orshaw
Label: Dark Shadow Recording
Producer: Stephen Mougin

“On and On”
Artists: Gena Britt with Brooke Aldridge
Label: Pinecastle Records
Producer: Gena Britt

Ronnie Bowman
Del McCoury
Russell Moore
Danny Paisley
Larry Sparks

Brooke Aldridge
Dale Ann Bradley
Amanda Smith
Molly Tuttle
Rhonda Vincent

Kristin Scott Benson
Gena Britt
Gina Furtado
Ned Luberecki
Scott Vestal

Barry Bales
Mike Bub
Todd Phillips
Missy Raines
Marshall Wilborn

Becky Buller
Jason Carter
Michael Cleveland
Stuart Duncan
Deanie Richardson

Jerry Douglas
Andy Hall
Rob Ickes
Phil Leadbetter
Justin Moses

Trey Hensley
Billy Strings
Bryan Sutton
Molly Tuttle
Jake Workman

Alan Bibey
Jesse Brock
Sam Bush
Sierra Hull
Ronnie McCoury

2020 Inductees to International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame:
New Grass Revival, The Johnson Mountain Boys, and J.T. Gray

Earl “J.T.” Gray is the owner of the Station Inn, Nashville’s hot spot for bluegrass music for more than forty years. He is a native of Corinth, Mississippi, and moved to Nashville in 1971 to perform with the Misty Mountain Boys. Other gigs for J. T. included dates with Vassar Clements, the Sullivan Family, and Tom T. Hall. He later joined Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys and performed on bass from 1979 until 1981.

His tenure with Jimmy Martin ended in 1981 when Gray purchased the Station Inn in Nashville. Initially the venue featured local acts, but it wasn’t long until J.T. began booking national acts, starting with the Bluegrass Cardinals. During the formative years of the club, Gray drove tour buses for several Nashville-based artists in an effort to keep the venue afloat. Eventually, the location morphed into a sought-after destination for performers.

The Station Inn is viewed by many artists as the nation’s hub of live bluegrass music and a place of honor to perform, despite its modest size and décor that is adorned with an array of vintage concert posters and seats which were taken from a tour bus belonging to Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. In addition to most every legendary bluegrass artist performing on the Station Inn stage over the years — including Bill Monroe, who was a frequent guest — ground-breaking and award-winning bands have been formed through relationships built there. High profile country artists such as Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Dierks Bentley, Chris Stapleton, and Steve Earle have also spent many evenings performing bluegrass on that stage.

The success of the Station Inn is due to J.T.’s passion for bluegrass music, his relentless perseverance through the lean years, and his unwavering support of bluegrass musicians.

The Johnson Mountain Boys were a high-energy band from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., that specialized in hard-core traditional bluegrass. The group was unique in its success with a traditional format at a time when bluegrass as a whole was heading in a more progressive direction.

The Johnson Mountain Boys’ first festival appearance was in 1979 at the Bluegrass Unlimited event in Indian Springs, Maryland. That year, the band came to the attention of Rounder Records which, over the next decade and a half, issued nine albums by the group, all of them favorably received by fans and critics alike.

The one constant throughout the band’s history was guitarist/lead singer Dudley Connell. Citing Carter Stanley as a major influence, Connell developed into a soulful singer, a forceful guitar player, and a talented composer of songs. There was very little turnover within the group and, over the years, the principal players included mandolin players David McLaughlin, fiddler Eddie Stubbs, banjoists Richard Underwood and Tom Adams, and bass players Larry Robbins, Marshall Wilborn, and Earl Yager.

In the group’s heyday, they worked 200 to 250 dates a year, which included performances at Madison Square Garden, the Lincoln Center, the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall, and the White House, where they were introduced by Nancy Reagan. Over the years, the band took their music around the world to Africa, England, Southeast Asia, and India, among other places.

The Johnson Mountain Boys were a visual treat as well: the members dressed in matching suits and western-style hats, and they didn’t just walk on stage, they ran! On February 20, 1988, while still at the top of their game, The Johnson Mountain Boys bid farewell to full time touring in concert at the community center in Lucketts, Virginia; the event was recorded and released as a double LP on Rounder, At the Old Schoolhouse, which was the first of their two Grammy nominated albums.

From 1988 through 1996, The Johnson Mountain Boys performed 25 to 50 concerts a year. During that time they also released their Blue Diamond Album, their second Grammy nominated album. The band performed its last concert in November of 1996.

The New Grass Revival was one of the premier bands at the forefront of the contemporary/progressive bluegrass movements of the 1970s, and ’80s. Both in appearance and in their approach to the music, they were a definite departure from bluegrass of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Their very name became synonymous with new trends in the music, and their sound owed as much to rhythm and blues, reggae, and rock and roll as it did to bluegrass and country. The band got its start in 1971 when four members of the Bluegrass Alliance broke away. The initial lineup of the New Grass Revival was Sam Bush on mandolin, Courtney Johnson on banjo, Ebo Walker on bass, and Curtis Burch on guitar.  In 1973, Butch Robins replaced Walker, and then a year later bass player and soaring tenor vocalist John Cowan joined the band.

The group had one album release on Starday, titled simply New Grass Revival. The band moved to Flying Fish, where they had five releases over the next seven years: Fly Through the Country (1975), Too Late to Turn Back Now (1977), When the Storm is Over (1978), Barren County (1979), and Commonwealth (1982). Taking their music to a broader audience, in 1979 New Grass Revival spent the season as the opening act and backing band for rocker Leon Russell. Then in 1981, Johnson and Burch decided to leave the band, and the new line-up consisted of Sam Bush, John Cowan, rock solid guitarist Pat Flynn, and cutting edge banjoist Béla Fleck.

The New Grass Revival switched to the Sugar Hill label in 1984. Their sole album there, On the Boulevard, signaled a complete makeover of the band. After signing with Capitol Records, they released three albums in three years: New Grass Revival (1986), Hold to a Dream (1987), and Friday Night in America (1989). Capitol released six singles by the band, with “Calling Baton Rouge” cracking the Top 40.

The New Grass Revival played their last show on New Year’s Eve in 1989. Sam Bush spent five years touring with Emmylou Harris and went on to form the highly successful Sam Bush Band, while Béla Fleck continues to enjoy an acclaimed career as a versatile, virtuosic, trailblazing banjo player.  John Cowan went on to front the John Cowan Band and is now a member of the pop group The Doobie Brothers, in addition to touring with Darin & Brooke Aldridge. Pat Flynn continued his career as a successful studio musician.  At the request of Garth Brooks, the group reunited in the recording studio in 1993 on his version of “Calling Baton Rouge” and again in 1997 for his recording of “Do What You Gotta Do.”

Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients 

Each year, the IBMA presents five Distinguished Achievement Awards to individuals and organizations to recognize their significant contributions to bluegrass music with its highest honor outside of induction into the Hall of Fame. This year’s recipients of IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Awards include:

Norman & Judy Adams – From Dahlonega, GA, Norman Adams was an insurance executive who, in 1974 with business partner Tony Anderson, launched their first bluegrass festival. This evolved into one of the most successful bluegrass festival production companies in bluegrass music. They were pioneers in developing both outdoor and indoor festivals and even hosting a bluegrass cruise. Anderson retired several years ago, but Norman and Judy Adams continued and expanded their festival reach with as many as nine major festivals each year throughout the southeastern U.S., drawing fans from all over the world.  The impact of the Adams and their festivals to help the genre thrive cannot be overstated. In 45 years, their festivals attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees. Norman’s love of traditional bluegrass music and keen eye for rising talent helped keep audiences entertained with both legends of the music and newer bands emerging on the scene. Scores of bluegrass greats talk about the Adams’ dedication to the music and their kindness to those who make it. While Norman and Judy retired this year, they have left an indelible mark on bluegrass music as some of the preeminent event producers ever in the genre.

Darrel & Phyllis Adkins – Darrel and Phyllis Adkins have touched both the bluegrass community and the lives of children by combining a passion for bluegrass music and a passion to raise money to treat and find a cure for childhood cancer. They began hosting festivals in the 1980s. Their Bluegrass Classic Festival at Frontier Ranch, and later at the Hoover Y Park in Columbus, OH, became legendary, drawing thousands of fans from around the globe. One of the hallmarks of this festival that continues today is the unique and historic collaborations performing on stage. In 2000, tragedy struck the Adkins family as their daughter, Mandy, lost her battle with cancer at the age of 22. Out of deep appreciation for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Adkins formed the charity “Musicians Against Childhood Cancer” (MACC). Through artist support, Darrel and Phyllis continued their festival and turned it into a benefit for St. Jude’s Hospital, with 100% of the proceeds being donated to cancer research. Since 2000, they have raised over $1 million for the hospital, and the MACC has become a favorite gathering of bluegrass professionals and fans to support this cause. Darrel and Phyllis Adkins are deeply generous to bluegrass professionals, helping them and hosting them in a variety of ways and places.

Darol Anger – Darol Anger’s influence and impact on bluegrass come from both his virtuosity as a musician and his generosity as an educator. Exceptional among modern fiddlers for his versatility and depth, Darol has helped drive the evolution of contemporary string band music through his involvement with numerous cutting edge ensembles including Psychograss, The Republic Of Strings, Turtle Island String Quartet, The David Grisman Quintet, Montreux, the Duo with Mike Marshall, NewGrange and others. While his music has often blurred genre boundaries, his deep love for and grounding in bluegrass is at the core of everything he plays. Stuart Duncan comments, “Darol plays with fire and grace simultaneously.” And, “I love how he can energize a group of peers or students into thinking not just outside the box, but thinking of the box being much bigger.” Over the course of his career, Darol has shared the stage with some of the most celebrated and influential acoustic musicians of our time, including Stephane Grappelli, Mark O’Connor, David Grisman, Tony Rice, Béla Fleck, and Vassar Clements. Darol balances his touring schedule with his commitment to educating the next generation of fiddler players. He is an Associate Professor Emeritus at the prestigious Berklee College of Music and also runs an ambitious online fiddle school at

Wayne Rice – Although Wayne Rice has played a multi-faceted role in the bluegrass community, it’s as the host of KSON San Diego’s Bluegrass Special weekly radio program that he is most well known. The Bluegrass Special is a true cornerstone of the San Diego bluegrass community and provides a beacon for bluegrass fans across the region. Wayne’s first broadcast of the show aired in March 1976, making this its 45th year – earning it the distinction of being the longest running bluegrass radio show on the same radio station and the longest running radio show of any kind in San Diego history. The fact that KSON is a major market Top 40 country station makes the achievement even more notable. But Wayne’s contributions to bluegrass aren’t limited to the airwaves. Wayne is also a longtime banjo player who began his musical career in the 1970s as a member of the ACM (Academy of Country Music) award-winning group Brush Arbor.  He is a lifetime member of IBMA, a past Awards Show producer, and frequent committee member. Wayne is also the creator of the Bluegrass Bios website which he maintains for DJs to provide a reliable source of accurate information about bluegrass artists and their music.

Jack Tottle – Described by industry professionals like Tim Stafford as “a true Bluegrass Renaissance man,” Jack Tottle has been at the forefront of numerous aspects of the music and industry. In the 1960s, he performed and recorded two albums with the Lonesome River Boys. Jack then joined Don Stover and the White Mountain Boys in the early ’70s before recording three albums for Rounder Records as a solo artist and with the progressive-yet-traditional bluegrass band, Tasty Licks, which included Pat Enright, Mark Schatz, and young Béla Fleck in his first professional job in music. Beyond his accomplished music career, Tottle wrote the best-selling mandolin instruction book Bluegrass Mandolin for Oak Publications in 1975, followed by additional books and videos for guitar and mandolin. In 1982, he established the Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies program at East Tennessee State University, where he instructed and mentored many of today’s well known performers, including Tim Stafford, Barry Bales, Adam Steffey, Becky Buller, and country star Kenny Chesney. If that weren’t enough, he continued to record with other greats in bluegrass music, and he has written songs that have become bluegrass standards. He served on the IBMA Board of Directors in its early days, and today he still writes for Bluegrass Unlimited and Bluegrass Today.

The IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Awards will be presented during an Industry Awards event as part of IBMA Virtual World of Bluegrass event this fall, with additional details pending.

More info about IBMA World of Bluegrass 2020

IBMA World of Bluegrass 2020 is a virtual bluegrass music homecoming and convention. The IBMA World of Bluegrass 2020 event encompasses four events: the IBMA Business Conference, IBMA Bluegrass Ramble, an innovative series of band showcases, the 31st Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards, and music festival IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC.

According to data released by Visit Raleigh, attendance at IBMA World of Bluegrass has grown by more than 50% since moving to Raleigh in 2013. Over the last seven years combined, the event has attracted more than 1.2 million total attendees and generated more than $80 million in direct economic impact throughout Wake County. Last year’s event (2019) alone saw more than 200 acts perform, 218,000 attendees and generated $18.65 million in direct economic impact.

IBMA continues to offer a Community Resources page at its official website ― ― that offers updated information about COVID-19 that is relevant to the bluegrass community.

About IBMA

IBMA – the International Bluegrass Music Association – is the nonprofit professional organization for the global bluegrass music community. The organization’s successful run in Raleigh is the product of their partnership with The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Raleigh Convention Center, PineCone—The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, the City of Raleigh and a local organizing committee.


Press Info:
Judy McDonough, JEMMedia
[email protected]
(615) 243-5994

General Info:
Casey Campbell, IBMA
[email protected]
(615) 256-3222

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