Keb’ Mo’, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, The Mavericks, Trina Shoemaker and Carla Thomas will be honored with lifetime achievement awards at the upcoming 20th annual Americana Honors & Awards show on Sept. 22 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
Keb’ Mo’ will be honored with the performance award, the Fisk Jubilee Singers with the legacy award (which will be co-presented by the National Museum of African American Music), The Mavericks with the trailblazer award, Shoemaker with the producer-engineer honor and Thomas with the inspiration award.
The Honors & Awards ceremony serves as the highlight of the Americana Music Association’s annual AMERICANAFEST, which will take place Sept. 22-25 in Nashville.
Singing group the Fisk Jubilee Singers, of Fisk University, were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2000 and were awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2008. The original Fisk Jubilee Singers formed in 1871. Their music broke racial barriers both in the United States and abroad, while helping the group raise money for the school.
The Mavericks formed in Miami in 1989. In the 1990s they earned Top 20 hits on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, including “O What a Thrill” (peaked at No. 18), “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down” with Flaco Jimenez (No. 13) and “There Goes My Heart” (No. 20). In 2000, the group went on hiatus and lead singer Raul Malo released a series of solo albums. The group reunited in the 2010s and last year, they released their first all-Spanish language album.
Since Kevin Roosevelt Moore launched his career in the early 1990s (and was rechristened Keb’ Mo’ around 1994), he’s earned five Grammy honors. In 1994, he released his self-titled debut project, which contained “Come on in My Kitchen” and “Kindhearted Woman Blues,” both covers of songs from blues icon Robert Johnson. Keb’ Mo’ has since performed everywhere from Sessions at West 54th to the Crossroads Festival to the White House. His 2019 album, Oklahoma, earned the best americana album honor at last year’s Grammy Awards.
Illinois native Shoemaker aspired to become a record producer, first working in Los Angeles and London before moving to New Orleans. Shoemaker was noticed by producer Daniel Lanois, who made her a tape op and then a full engineer. She worked on projects for Iggy Pop, Giant Sand and on Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball. Then she began working with Sheryl Crow on Crow’s self-titled album and subsequent The Globe Sessions album, which earned Shoemaker her first Grammy honors, including a trophy for her engineering. Shoemaker has recorded, produced and/or mixed for artists including Whiskeytown, Matthew Ryan, and Josh Ritter, as well as more recent work on The Secret Sisters’ You Don’t Own Me Anymore and Tanya Tucker’s While I’m Livin’. Shoemaker is also the first woman to win the americana producer/engineer lifetime award.
Thomas made a string of recordings for Stax and Atlantic Records in the 1960s, incorporating soul, country and gospel. The daughter of DJ, singer and performer Rufus Thomas, she began singing as a child, joining WDIA’s Teen Town Singers at age 10. She earned an early pop and R&B hit “Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes).” Thomas appeared on American Bandstand and recorded an album filled with duets with Otis Redding months before he died in 1967. In 1993, the Rhythm & Blues Foundation honored Thomas with its exclusive pioneer award. The inspiration award has only been granted once before, to fellow Stax/Atlantic recording artist Mavis Staples.
“We are beyond humbled to recognize this group of artists with our highest awards,” said Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association. “All of these artists have transformed the way we listen and experience music and have helped to build a perennial foundation for Americana music to prosper as an art form today. Our community looks forward to welcoming them with open arms on our biggest night of the year in September.”