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Spirit of Folk Awards

These awards are presented to honor and celebrate people and organizations actively involved in the promotion and preservation of folk music through their creative work, their community building, and their demonstrated leadership. The 2016 awards will be announced at the conference on Wednesday, February 17, 2016.


2016 Spirit of Folk Award Recipients

Troy is the founder of The House of Songs project -an artist residency program for singer-songwriters that fosters collaboration between musicians through songwriting sessions and showcases. The program is now on its sixth year of operation and includes over eight countries. As co-owner and producer for his animation and film projects have been awarded a Telly Award, an Emmy and several Pollie awards. He also produces the annual Roky Erickson Ice Cream Social concerts during the SXSW Music Festival since 2008, and currently works as a music consultant for Warner Brothers Music. Troy’s 25-year career has seen international gold record co-writes, a New York Times top ten critics list and eight full-length CDs.


Fiddler, fiddle-maker, and Arkansas Living Treasure Award winner Violet Hensley was born in 1916. She learned to fiddle in 1928 and made fiddles in 1932 watching her father George W. Brumley in the community of Alamo, AR. With the advent of the folk music revival, the mother of nine’s blossoming musical and fiddle-making talents caught the attention of Grammy Award winner Jimmy Driftwood and the owners of Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. She joined the crafter’s cast at Silver Dollar City in 1967, as one of the City’s celebrities who used radio, television, and newspapers to invite visitors to the amusement park. Sharing her talents in front of millions, she appeared at the National Folk Festival and on television shows such as “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Captain Kangaroo,” and “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee.”

Since bursting on to the folk scene at the end of the Noughties, Mercury Prize nominee, traditional English folk singer Sam Lee has blazed a trail as an outstanding singer and song collector. He’s also been the driving force behind the award-winning folk club The Nest Collective, which has brought traditional music to all kinds of new stages and venues, as well as the founder of a burgeoning song collectors’ movement that inspires a new generation of performers to draw on living source singers rather than books and records. Lee is a 21st-century artist, collecting new versions of old songs on his iPhone and laptop, but his repertoire is steeped in the reek and smoke of folk history and lore, its tales of love, parting, exile and murder bound by a sympathetic magic still resonant today, parting the veil on vivid scenes from our islands’ deep history. “Sam is the most
accomplished and authentic interpreters of traditional English song to emerge in years.” fRoots.

“I’ll do the job for five years - tops.” So said David Siglin when The Ark’s Board of Directors hired him as manager of a small coffee house in Ann Arbor, MI. It was January of 1969, a little over three years after the organization was founded. Fortunately for The Ark, five years stretched into 10; 10 into 20; 20 into 40. During those four decades Dave was the pulse of The Ark, ushering it through boom times and hard times, shaping it into one of the most cherished and respected venues of its kind in the country. The Ark was transformed from a small, student-oriented coffee house to an internationally renowned listening room presenting the finest folk and roots musicians in the world. Dave’s uncanny ability to recognize talent, his commitment to providing a venue for emerging as well as established artists, and his philosophy of presenting “music that deserves to be heard” rather than what’s popular at the moment are traits at the heart of The Ark’s mission.

Phyllis Stenson is the Founding Executive and Artistic Director of Harrison Festival, in Harrison Hot Springs. Through her leadership, the festival grew from a grassroots volunteer organization to an event of national significance, while still maintaining the strong ties of a community. The festival remains strongly rooted in its 38th annual season. Well respected by her peers nationally for her innovative programming and as a willing mentor, Phyllis continues to be active in serving the communities across Canada in her retirement. She is the Past president of Capacoa, Co-founder Western Artistic Directors of Roots Music Festivals, Former chair of BC Touring Council, and has been awarded the BC Touring Council’s “Touring Award of Fineness”. “It takes a community to raise a festival; one that believes in live performance, in the power of literacy and visual arts, and in a desire for social change and better understanding amongst all people.” - Phyllis Stenson.

Tony Turner is a product of the Ottawa’s rich roots music scene. As a singer/songwriter, his thoughtful, sometimes amusing tunes reveal his love of history, landscapes and the precious moments of ordinary people. These themes converged earlier this year with a healthy dose of political protest, making a bit of history himself when Tony penned the song “Harperman”, a humorous call for change in federal leadership, which saw Turner suspended from his federal scientist role. Inspired by an article in a social justice newsletter, the protest song garnered over 750,000 views on YouTube to help defeat the Conservative government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the October 19, 2015 Canadian election. The song gained global attention including a feature on The Daily Show.



Past Spirit of Folk Recipients
Year Recipients
 2015  Dana Cooper, Tom Coxworth, David Hirshland, Sheena Keane, Shelley  Nordstrom, Folk Alliance Australia
 2014  Jim Kweskin, Brewer & Shipley, Danny Cox, Bob McWilliams, Bob & Diana  Suckiel, Chuck Haddix 
 2013  Bernie Finkelstein, Sylvia Tyson, Tam Kearney, Enoch Kent, Holmes Hooke
 2012  James Luther "Jim" Dickinson, Skipper Paul "Skip" McQuinn
 2011  Dan Navarro, John Hartford, Two Way Street Coffee House, David  Bromberg, Rodney Dillard and the Dillards, Tom Neff
2010  Richard Flohil, Howard and Roz Larman, Vic & Reb Heyman, Mike Seeger,  Gene Shay, Rounder Records
 2009  Mitch Podolak
2008   Dalis Allen - SWRFA, Kari Estrin - SERFA, FARM, Renee Bodie - FAR-West,  Dianne Tankle - NERFA

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