The Del McCoury Band won entertainer of the year for the ninth time at the International Bluegrass Music Awards on Thursday, while another bluegrass mainstay took home his first award.
Larry Sparks, celebrating his 40th year of performing, received the award for male vocalist of the year, then told an adoring crowd, “You know, I’ve never won anything in my life.”
Rhonda Vincent etched her name into bluegrass history by winning female vocalist of the year for an unprecedented fifth straight year.
“I love what I do,” Vincent told the crowd. “I love singing bluegrass music. ... I get to work with some incredible people.”
McCoury and his band also won album of the year for “It’s Just The Night.” McCoury’s bluegrass roots reach back 40 years to his days as a singer and guitar player with Bill Monroe.
“They’re a great band,” McCoury said of his group after winning entertainer of the year.
The 15th annual awards show, hosted by the International Bluegrass Music Association, was held at the Kentucky Center. Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski were co-hosts for the second straight year.
Vincent also won song of the year for “Kentucky Borderline” from her album “One Step Ahead.” She co-wrote the song with Terry Herd, who was named broadcaster of the year earlier in the day.
Winning induction into the Bluegrass Hall of Honor were bluegrass pioneer Curly Seckler and the late Bill Vernon. The Hall of Honor, housed in the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, recognizes outstanding contributions to bluegrass music.
Seckler, 84, is best known for his rhythm mandolin playing and tenor harmony singing while working off and on with Flatt & Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys from 1949 to 1962.
“I’ve had a lot of honors down through the years, but here tonight is one of the big ones,” Seckler said. Seckler then played mandolin and sang the tune “I’ll Go Steppin’ Too” with J.D. Crowe and the New South.
Vernon’s work as a radio broadcaster and historian introduced thousands to bluegrass music.
The awards show highlights a weeklong celebration of bluegrass music that features trade shows, a fan fest and performances by bluegrass stars. More than 20,000 fans and musicians were expected to attend.
Other winners Thursday:
- Instrumental group: Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder.
- Vocal group: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.
- Guitar player: Bryan Sutton.
- Mandolin player: Adam Steffey.
- Bass player: Missy Raines.
- Banjo player: Crowe.
- Gospel recorded performance: Blue Highway, for the album “Wondrous Love.”
- Recorded event of the year: “Livin’ Lovin’ Losin’: Songs of the Louvin Brothers,” a tribute to Charlie & Ira Louvin. The album featured such performers as Vincent, Krauss, McCoury, James Taylor, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, Linda Ronstadt and Patty Loveless.
- Instrumental album: Michael Cleveland and Tom Adams, for “Live At The Ragged Edge.”
- Fiddle player of the year: Cleveland.
- Emerging artists of the year: King Wilkie band.