IBMA’s 2020 Momentum and Industry Award Nominations

by | 1 Aug, 2020

IBMA Awards
Paul Schiminger IBMA

Paul Schiminger

In addition to this years IBMA’s Artists Awards the International Bluegrass Music Association has announced the nominees for this year’s IBMA Industry Awards and IBMA Momentum Awards, which will be presented during IBMA’s Virtual World of Bluegrass event, from the 28th September to 3rd October. The announcement was made earlier this morning on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction channel.

While most genres of music only award high profile artists and recordings, the bluegrass music community also celebrates other industry professionals and rising stars achieving excellence during the year. The IBMA Industry Awards recognize the exceptional contributions of those talented professionals behind the scenes who are essential to bluegrass music. The IBMA Momentum Awards were added several years ago to shine a bright light on the many early-stage professionals making a huge impact in bluegrass music and the generous mentors providing them invaluable guidance and support. Congratulations to each and every nominee – Paul Schiminger, executive director IBMA.

In June, 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 IBMA Momentum Awards will take place Tuesday, 29th September; the IBMA Industry Awards will take place Wednesday, 30th September, and will include the presentation of the 2020 Distinguished Achievement Awards. Specific times and additional details for both events, and for other IBMA World of Bluegrass 2020 virtual events, will be shared in the coming weeks across the organization’s social media platforms, through email notification, and on and

IBMA Industry Awards:

The Industry Awards recognize outstanding work in categories including Broadcaster of the Year, Event of the Year, Graphic Designer of the Year, Liner Notes of the Year, Writer of the Year, Sound Engineer of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year.

Nominees in each category are selected by specially appointed committees made up of bluegrass music professionals who possess significant knowledge of that field. The recipient of each award is decided on by the Panel of Electors, an anonymous group of over 200 veteran bluegrass music professionals selected by the IBMA Board of Directors.

The 2020 IBMA Industry Awards Nominees:

Broadcaster of the Year:

  • Barb Heller
  • Michael Kear
  • Brad Kolodner
  • Peter Thompson
  • Alan Tompkins
Event of the Year:

  • The 2019-2020 Emelin Theatre Bluegrass Concert Series – Mamaroneck, NY
  • FreshGrass – North Adams, MA
  • Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival – Farmers Branch, TX
  • Augusta Heritage Center Bluegrass Week – Elkins, WV
  • Tell It To Me: The Johnson City Sessions 90th Anniversary Celebration – Johnson City, TN

Graphic Designer of the Year:

  • Grace van’t Hof
  • Eric Barie
  • Michael Armistead
  • Carla Wehby
  • Lisa Berman

Liner Notes of the Year:

  • Katy Daley – Live At The Cellar Door, The Seldom Scene
  • Bill Nowlin – The Early Days of Bluegrass, Various Artists
  • Katie Harford Hogue & Matt Combs – The John Hartford Fiddle Tune Project, Volume 1, Various Artists
  • Craig Havighurst – Bad For You, The SteelDrivers
  • Ted Olson – Tell It to Me: Revisiting the Johnson City Sessions, 1928-1929, Various Artists

Songwriter of the Year:

  • Ronnie Bowman
  • Louisa Branscomb
  • Milan Miller
  • Jerry Salley
  • Donna Ulisse

Sound Engineer of the Year:

  • Van Atkins
  • Adam Engelhardt
  • Randy LeRoy
  • Stephen Mougin
  • Jason Singleton

Writer of the Year:

  • Bill Conger
  • Thomas Goldsmith
  • Derek Halsey
  • Justin Hiltner
  • Kip Lornell


IBMA Momentum Awards:

The Momentum Awards recognize both musicians and bluegrass industry professionals who, in the early stages of their careers, are making significant contributions to or are having a significant influence upon bluegrass music. These contributions can be to bluegrass music in general, or to a specific sector of the industry. The Mentor Award, in contrast to the other Momentum Awards, recognizes a bluegrass professional who has made a significant impact on the lives and careers of newcomers to the bluegrass industry.

Starting with recommendations from the IBMA membership, nominees are chosen through a multi-stage process by committees made up of respected musicians and industry leaders in the bluegrass world.

The 2020 IBMA Momentum Award Nominees:

Mentor of the Year:

  • Alan Bibey
  • Rick Lang
  • Scott Napier
  • Annie Savage
  • Valerie Smith


Industry Involvement:

  • Malachi Graham
  • Adam Kirr
  • Kara Kundert
  • Jonathan Een Newton
  • Kris Truelsen


  • Tabitha Agnew
  • Amanda Cook
  • Victoria Kelley
  • Leanna Price
  • Melody Williamson

Instrumentalist (2 selected):

  • Tabitha Agnew
  • Thomas Cassell
  • Alex Edwards
  • Miles Quale
  • Lauren Price Napier
  • Liam Purcell
  • Sullivan Tuttle


  • AJ Lee and Blue Summit (San Jose, CA)
  • Colebrook Road (Harrisburg, PA)
  • Midnight Skyracer (UK)
  • Seth Mulder & Midnight Run (East Tennessee)
  • The Slocan Ramblers (Toronto, Ontario)

IBMA is actively working to develop innovative, compelling activities and content for this year’s event, and will be releasing information and updates in August and September. Updates will also be available via social media platforms and email newsletters of Raleigh partners, including PineCone, the Raleigh Convention Center, and Visit Raleigh.

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 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 organisation for the global bluegrass music community. The organisation’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.