I just finished filling out my second ballot for the IBMA Awards.
Digression about IBMA: That would be the International Bluegrass Music Association for you newbies. The IBMA is a professional trade organization for bluegrass musicians and bluegrass business people (event producers, merchandisers, record labels, songwriters, etc.). Each year the IBMA recognizes those musicians who have done outstanding work in the bluegrass music field with awards in twelve categories.
Anyhow, in years past I have ranted about the lack of female presence on these ballots, especially in the Instrumental Performers category.
Digression about how you get on the first ballot: The first ballot is completely open; any member can nominate anyone they choose. So I had no one to blame about lack of female presence except the whole membership! The most I could do was to quote Abigail Adams and say, “Remember the women!” Which I did regularly in my Women in Bluegrass newsletter.
This year I am happy to say that things are much improved. So much improved that I am going to tell you the names of all the women who made this second-ballot, long-list of candidates for nomination on the various instruments. (You’re not a true nominee until the next ballot, on which the five final names will appear.) I am so proud of all of these wonderful, talented, hard-working women! There are EIGHTEEN in all!
IBMA Candidates for Nomination...
For Banjo Player of the Year
Kristin Scott Benson
For Bass Player of the Year
For Fiddle Player of the Year
Shelby Hope Gold
For Dobro Player of the Year
Sally Van Meter (what would we do without Sally Van?)
For Guitar Player of the Year
Dale Ann Bradley
For Mandolin Player of the Year
Analise Victoria Gold
For contrast, in 1999 there were only FIVE women, total, nominated for Instrumental Awards on the second ballot: Kristin Scott [Benson], Alison Krauss, Laurie Lewis, Missy Raines, and Sally Van Meter.
And I wish I’d kept my second ballots from earlier years, when I suspect there were even fewer women nominated, but, frankly, I never thought I’d need them. But now I find I’m wrong. I didn’t realize I’d turn out to be such a raging feminist! I thought I was making a enough of a statement simply by playing the banjo and writing songs like “I Ain’t Domesticated Yet.” Silly me!
So, again congratulations to all these women who are out there hitting the road hard. You go!