It’s time to start the voting for IBMA’s annual awards. This is always an exciting time, few things are as professionally satisfying as acknowledging the accomplishments of ones’ colleagues over the last year, recognizing the challenges we all face and suppporting those among us who have stood out the most for their commitment to producing their own best work. This first ballot is an open ballot, which means that voters can write in the name of whomever they feel is deserving of awards, setting the ballot for the following two rounds of voting. If the name of an individual, band, or project doesn’t appear on this ballot, it won’t appear later by magic.
So, before filling out your ballot, please think about your selections. Have the individual players and bands you’re voting for actually had an outstanding year? Have they been out on the road, working hard, playing lots of gigs? Are they active professionals? Is your favorite for Emerging Artist actually a new band? Or is it a new collaboration of veteran players? If it’s the latter, please don’t nominate them for Emerging Artist. They are not emerging. They have already tackled the challenges that new bands and artists face and are not starting from the same place.
You get the idea. This is a personal plea from me to you, IBMA voters; please vote thoughtfully and with the understanding that the awards in October may be the only thing the rest of the music industry, and the public at large, hears about professional Bluegrass music this year. The more those people see the same names over and over the less likely it is that they will take a look at what we’re up to, and the less likely it is that they will take us and our music seriously.
Most importantly, our continual failure to recognize many of the most innovative and impactful members of our community should be a collective embarrassment. There are marvelous contributors to our art, new and established, who are repeatedly overlooked. It’s only a matter of time before those great artists will consider moving on to greener pastures rather than continue to produce work amongst peers who refuse to support them.
It’s time to vote with the future of Bluegrass in mind; not its’ past. Let’s be thoughtful NOW and talk about it NOW. Not in a few months when the final ballot mirrors the last one, and the one before that, and the one before that.
It really matters.
Thanks for reading.