Folk Alliance International, a global nonprofit dedicated to promoting folk music, hosted the International Folk Music Awards last night, kicking off its annual weekend conference in Kansas City, MO. Among the night’s big winners were Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, Janis Ian, Anaïs Mitchell, and Aoife O’Donovan.

Molly Tuttle took home the award for Album of the Year (sponsored by Rounder Records) for Crooked Tree, beating out a list of nominees including Silvana Estrada, Angélique Kidjo and Ibrahim Maalouf, Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, and Anaïs Mitchell.

Janis Ian was named Artist of the Year in addition to receiving a Crown Lifetime Achievement Award alongside Josh White and John Prine‘s Oh Boy Records. The three lifetime achievement honorees were each the subject of tribute performances, with Jake Blount and Wallis Bird with Sam Lee and Jayme Stone performing songs by Ian, Leyla McCalla and Josh White, Jr. performing songs by Josh White, and The Milk Carton Kids performing songs by John Prine with a surprise appearance by Iris DeMent to close the night. Keynote speaker Valerie June was scheduled to join The Milk Carton Kids’ John Prine tribute but was unable to make it in time due to weather-related travel delays. She is still scheduled to deliver the keynote presentation today, February 2nd.

Guatemalan singer-songwriter Sara Curruchich kicked off the event with a stirring performance of her song “Mujer Indígena”. The performances will continue throughout the weekend with a long list of showcases including Ron Artis II, Steve Poltz, Humbird, and more.

Competition for Song of the Year (sponsored by Sound Royalties) was tight, resulting in a tie between Anaïs Mitchell’s “Bright Star” and Aoife O’Donovan’s “B61”.

Other previously announced awards included the People’s Voice Award, which went to Leyla McCalla, the Rising Tide award, which went to NPR Tiny Desk Contest winner Alisa Amador, and the Clearwater Award, sponsored by the Levitt Foundation in an effort to reward environmental stewardship and public leadership in sustainable event production, which went to Shambala Festival.

Several people and organizations from the folk music world also received The Spirit of Folk Awards, which are presented to honor and celebrate those who are actively involved in the promotion and preservation of folk music through creative work, community building, and demonstrated leadership. Winners included Amy Reitnouer Jacobs, co-founder and executive director of The Bluegrass Situation, Adrian Sabogal, acclaimed musician, producer, and researcher who founded Marimbea, The Folk DJ Hall of Fame, and more.

The entire awards show was streamed live via YouTube. Watch the full program below, and click below to view a complete list of winners and honorees. For more on Folk Alliance International, visit the organization’s website.

2023 International Folk Music Awards Winners And Honorees:

Album of the Year (sponsored by Rounder Records)
Crooked Tree by Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway

Artist of the Year
Janis Ian

Song of the Year (sponsored by Sound Royalties) (tie)
“Bright Star” written and performed by Anaïs Mitchell
“B61” written and performed by Aoife O’Donovan

The People’s Voice Award
Leyla McCalla

The Rising Tide Award
Alisa Amador

The Clearwater Award
Shambala Festival

The Spirit of Folk Awards
Steve Edge
Amy Reitnouer Jacobs
Marcy Marxer
Adrian Sabogal
Pat Mitchell Worley
The Folk DJ Hall of Fame
Robert Resnik
Marilyn Rea Beyer
John Platt
Harry B. Soria Jr.

Click to view winners & honorees.

2023 International Folk Music Awards