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Awards Announcement

Tuesday, February 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jerod Rivers
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Honoring our Folk Legends and Leaders

Folk Alliance International is proud to announce the 2017 recipients of the Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards and the Spirit of Folk Awards, to be presented at the International Folk Music Awards Show on February 15th opening FAI's annual conference. The International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs) are held to celebrate excellence, tradition, innovation, and the collective history of the global folk community.

Additional presentations at the 2017 IFMAs are the inaugural People's Voice Award (being presented to Bruce Cockburn), the inaugural Clearwater Award (presented to the Clearwater Festival), the member-voted Best of 2016 Awards for Album, Song, and Artist of the Year (to be announced that evening), and the induction of inaugural members of the Folk DJ Hall of Fame.  

International Folk Music Awards Show

Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 6 pm 
Westin Crown Center Hotel, Century C Ballroom

Hosted by acclaimed singer-songwriter, Paula Cole.
Featuring guest presentations by Kris Kristofferson, Megan Mullally,
and Eliza Gilkyson.

Open to FAI conference delegates and registered members of the press.

Lifetime Achievement Awards Recipients

Named for one of FAI’s founders and determined by FAI membership vote, the Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented each year to a living recipient, a memorial recipient, and an organization or recognized academic.  The 2017 recipients are iconic composer David Amram (Living), activist songwriter Malvina Reynolds (Legacy), and prolific folklorist Helen Creighton (Business/Academic). 

LIVING | David Amram

American composer, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, and author whose integration of jazz with folk and world music has led him to work with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Willie Nelson, Langston Hughes, Charles Mingus, Pepper Adams, and Levon Helm, among others. Considered a pioneer of jazz French horn, he also plays piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from all over the world.

Amram has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works, written many scores for Broadway theater and film, two operas, and the score for the 1959 film Pull My Daisy, narrated by novelist Jack Kerouac with whom he hosted the first-ever Jazz Poetry night in New York City. He was named by BMI as one of twenty most performed composers of concert music of the last thirty years.

LEGACY | Malvina Reynolds

American folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist, Malvina Reynolds (1900-1978) studied music theory, earned a Master of Arts in English and completed her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

Reynolds began songwriting late in life penning several popular songs including, "Little Boxes," "What Have They Done to the Rain," "It Isn't Nice," "Turn Around," "There's a Bottom Below," and beloved children's songs, "Magic Penny" and "Morningtown Ride" which became a top-5 UK single. Her songs about suburban sprawl, nuclear fallout, depression, children growing up became anthems for social issues were sung and recorded by The Seekers, Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, and many others. In her later years, Reynolds contributed songs and material to PBS' Sesame Street, on which she made occasional appearances as a character named Kate. A film biography, Love It Like a Fool, was made a few years before her death.

Helen Creighton 

A prolific folklorist, Helen Creighton (1899-1989) established connections with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the National Museum of Canada, and the US Library of Congress. She made recordings for the Canadian Museum of Civilization from 1947 to 1967 and received three Rockefeller Foundation fellowships to collect songs in Nova Scotia. Traveling widely to collect songs, tales, and customs of Gaelic, English, German, Mi'kmaq, African, and Acadian origin, among her many notable achievements, was the discovery of the traditional "Nova Scotia Song," (widely called "Farewell to Nova Scotia") which has become a provincial anthem.

Over the course of her career, Creighton collected over 4,000 songs and ballads and authored thirteen books of traditional songs, ballads, and stories (including Bluenose Ghosts); an autobiography, and numerous articles. Widely honored, she has been given six honorary doctorates, is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, an Honorary Life President of the Canadian Authors' Association, and a member of The Order of Canada.
Documentary shorts of our past Lifetime Achievement Award recipients can be found on the FolkAlliance YouTube channel and on our website at

Spirit of Folk Awards Recipients

The Spirit of Folk awards are presented annually to honor and celebrate people and organizations actively involved in the promotion and preservation of folk music through their creative work, community building, and demonstrated leadership. The 2017 recipients are Barbara Dane, Chloe Goodyear, Michelle Conceison, Ramy Essam, Si Khan, and SONiA disappear fear.

Barbara Dane

Joined by Pete Seeger in Detroit for her first concert in 1946, Barbara Dane has consistently used her voice and her platform wherever people are fighting for peace and justice. Throughout her long and extraordinary life, her work includes decades of collaborations with folk, jazz, blues and world music artists, from Louis Armstrong and Mikis Theodorakis to Lightnin’ Hopkins and Silvio Rodriguez.

Chloe Goodyear

A long-term senior staff member of the Woodford Folk Festival, one of Australia’s largest events whose mission is to stimulate, facilitate and foster the preservation and promotion of folk culture for the common good. Chloe is executive producer of the Museum of New and Old Art’s Festival of Music and Art and  more recently set up the Australian edition of The Festival Of Small Halls which tours domestic and international artists through rural Australia.

Michelle Conceison

Michelle is a fan and an advocate who is moved by songs and inspired to help the artists who write them. She started managing artists in 2001 and launched Market Monkeys in 2004 providing management and marketing services to a wide range of artists including Rose Cousins, Kris Delmhorst, Winterbloom, Lucy Kaplansky, and many more. Michelle has served on the FAI Board of Directors since 2010, and has been an exemplary President the last two years. 

Ramy Essam

In 2010, Ramy Essam became the musical voice of the Arab Spring when his song "Irhal" (recognized by Time Out magazine, as one of the top three Songs That Changed History) became the anthem of the Egyptian revolution. Imprisoned and tortured for singing activist songs, he has been living in exile in Sweden since 2014. With millions of online views he is a symbol of social activism and a beacon of uncommon bravery in the Middle East.

Si Kahn

With a career spanning 52 years, Si Kahn has produced an impressive catalog including 17 CDs of original songs, a CD of labor and civil rights songs with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp, songs and scripts for seven musicals, three books, and one co-authored book with public philosopher Elizabeth Minnich. His work has always been an extension of his committed work for civil rights, unions, the environment, and community organizing.

SONiA disappear fear

A vocal and steady advocate for LGBT rights and progressive political issues. SONiA disappear fear is the recipient of many awards, including the Coin of Honor from the US Army for her humanitarian efforts, and the GLAAD award for Best Album. She is one voice and one guitar, bending sound and light into songs with music and has been described as “a vivid celebration of the human spirit in all its infinite manifestations.”
Past Spirit of Folk recipients can be found on our website at

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