The Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented each year during the annual International Folk Alliance Conference. The awards are presented to a living recipient, a memorial recipient, and an organization or recognized academic.
* - denotes Living Lifetime Achievement Award winner has passed.
2016 recipients bios and video below:
LIVING RAMBLIN' JACK ELLIOTT
One of the last true links to the great folk traditions of this country, with over 40 albums under his belt, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is considered one of the country’s legendary foundations of folk music. Long before every kid in America wanted to play guitar, Ramblin’ Jack had picked it up and was passing it along. In the tradition of roving troubadours Jack has carried timeless songs from one place to another, from one generation to the next. Jack ran away from his Brooklyn home at fourteen to join the rodeo and learned his guitar from a cowboy. In 1950, he met Woody Guthrie, moved in with the Guthrie family and traveled with Woody, adopting his signature style and sound. Jack is a multiple Grammy Award winner, and recipient of a national Medal for the Arts.
LEGACY SONNY TERRY & BROWNIE MCGHEE
Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee (born in Georgia and Tennessee respectfully) established themselves as a duo in New York in 1942 breaking onto the folk scene alongside Leadbelly, Josh White, and Woody Guthrie. They did most of their work from 1958 until 1980, spending 11 months of each year touring, and recording dozens of albums. Despite their later fame as “pure” folk artists playing for white audiences, Terry and McGhee also fronted a jump blues combo with honking saxophone and rolling piano, variously calling themselves “Brownie McGhee and his Jook House Rockers” or “Sonny Terry and his Buckshot Five.” They appeared in the original Broadway productions of Finian’s Rainbow and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. During the blues revival of the 1960s, Terry and McGhee were very popular on the concert and music festival circuits, occasionally adding new material but usually remaining faithful to their roots and their audience.
BUSINESS/ACADEMIC THE ENGLISH FOLK DANCE AND SONG SOCIETY
The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) is a 118 year old organization with a mission to preserve and promote the best of folk. The Folk-Song Society was founded in 1898 with the aim of saving and celebrating England’s traditional folk songs. Following a merger with the English Folk Dance Society (EFDS) in 1932, they expanded to include the wider folk arts – and today they continue to bring folk to new audiences across the country, as evidenced by The Full English – their most ambitious learning and participation program to date. A truly groundbreaking undertaking, The Full English is a nationwide digital archiving project that preserves and provides access to thousands of traditional folk manuscripts. Over 3,000 individuals and 800 organizations comprise the membership of EFDSS, ensuring that folk arts and music remain alive and growing.