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Americana UK Gathers Next Week


Soul country singer and songwriter Yola has been one of the breakout stars of contemporary roots music who can point to a career leg-up from the eight-year-old Americana Music Association UK. She’s twice been their UK Artist of the Year, and she’s up for the award again next week as AMA-UK hosts its sixth annual convention. Of course, it’s online, but that means the event and community will be more accessible than ever, says the association’s CEO Stevie Smith.

“It has meant we’ve been noticed more, because apart from people just thinking well I can’t get to London and just forgetting about it, they’ve thought well actually I could go and actually watch this or be part of this, because I don’t need to travel.”

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, more than 80 artists will showcase through exclusive pre-taped sets. That’s a long way from the ten artists who performed back in 2016’s inaugural gathering. And It’s the deepest lineup in the event’s history too, spanning from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit to England-based folk singer Emily Barker, a past award winner. Then on January 28th, a tribute to John Prine with Robert Vincent and Billy Bragg will segue into the awards. Performances there will include Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams.

This is all one big pay per view experience, and tickets can be had for 25 pounds or about 34 US dollars. To ease the time difference, all the content can be streamed at will for up to two weeks. It’s not the format anybody hoped for, says Smith. But it does allow for expanded reach, with artists from Norway, Spain, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.

“The genre is called Americana, but it’s not just about American music. It’s roots music, and roots music is global.”


Craig Havighurst is WMOT's music news producer and host of The String, a show featuring conversations on culture, media and American music. New episodes of The String air on WMOT 89.5 in Middle Tennessee on Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. Twitter and Instagram: @chavighurst. Email: craig@wmot.org