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Lifetime Achievement Awards

Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards

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.

2018 Recipients

Living: Peter, Paul and Mary

During an era that witnessed the intersection of the Civil Rights Movement, the tensions of the Cold War and the Vietnam War, American folk music pioneers Peter, Paul and Mary provided a voice for a generation during uncertain times. An iconic folk music group from a historical time, Peter, Paul and Mary’s musical and social contributions span about five decades.

The group emerged as a premier act in the 1960s New York folk scene, an era in which folk and other forms of music provided a source of solidarity amid social and political turbulence and division. Their debut album, Peter, Paul and Mary, was released in 1962 and remains their most popular record. It maintained the No.1 place in the charts for more than a month and reached double platinum status.

Mary Travers passed away in 2009, yet the group remains one of the longest lasting folk acts in history, as Peter and Paul still perform to this day. They have earned over 15 Grammy nominations, five platinum albums, an International Advocate for Peace Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.

For the group’s massive contributions to the folk genre and culture, Peter, Paul and Mary are nominated for their music and the voice they gave to generations of folk music lovers.


Legacy: Richie Havens

Richie Havens was a popular American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Known for his diverse musical palette, which includes genres of folk, pop, and rhythm and blues.

Havens started his career in Greenwich Village, an area in New York City known for its progressive culture and social openness. He released his official debut album, Mixed Bag, in 1966 to critical acclaim.

He made history with a legendary three-hour performance that opened the Woodstock Festival in 1969, ending with an impassioned improvisation of an old spiritual that was later released under the name “Freedom.” In the 1970s, Havens starred in two films, Greased Lightning with Richard Pryor and as the title character Othello in Catch My Soul, a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello.

Some of Havens’ most notable achievements include performing at Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993, being awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award, and receiving the American Eagle Award by the National Music Council for his role in American music culture. Richie Havens passed away on April 22nd, 2013 after a heart attack in Jersey City, New Jersey. Haven’s ashes were scattered at the original Woodstock site.

Richie Havens is nominated for his role and stature in some of the most iconic moments and scenes in American music.


Business/Academic: Elektra Records

Elektra Records, founded by American businessman Jac Holzman and Paul Rickolt helped spawn the growth of contemporary folk music. The label began in Holzman's St. John's College dorm room in Annapolis, MD in 1950. During the first decade of the company’s history, the record label focused primarily on folk music releasing best-selling albums from Oscar Brand, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Theodore Bikel, and Judy Collins. Now based in New York City, these groundbreaking artists from the label’s early days became fixtures in an era known to many as the American folk music revival.

A collaboration between Elektra Records and Folkways Records created a boxed set featuring 83 previously unreleased recordings by highly respected folk artists and a 48-page booklet called The Folk Box. The box set is revered for its distinctive collection of rare recordings, and also for documenting the rebirth of the presence of singer-songwriters who record and perform their own compositions.

After years of releasing primarily folk music albums, Elektra Records, produced and popularized some of the most iconic acts of the 70s such as The Doors, Queen, and Love which helped to pioneer the genre of rock music.

For its myriad accomplishments as a music industry leader, Elektra Records is nominated for its groundbreaking work to bring folk music to the mainstream.

Past Recipients (1995-2017)

Click the links below to see Lifetime Achievement Award videos on YouTube.

2018 Peter, Paul & Mary Richie Havens Elektra Records
David AmramDónal Lunny
Malvina Reynolds
Helen Creighton
2016 Ramblin' Jack Elliott Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS)
2015 Peggy Seeger Bessie Jones Canadian Society for Traditional Music
2014 Buddy MacMaster* Dock Boggs Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
2013 The Weavers Mike Seeger Augusta Heritage Center
2012 Harry Belafonte
Robert Johnson The Highlander Center
2011 Joan Baez
Jimmie Rodgers Les Blank
2010 Bob Dylan
Elizabeth Cotten National Council for Traditional Arts
2009 Guy & Candie Carawan* Phil Ochs
Old Town School of Folk Music
2008 Mavis Staples Tommy Jarrell Rounder Records
2007 Earl Scruggs* Dave Van Ronk Manny Greenhill
2006 Tom Paxton Clifton Chenier Kenneth Goldstein
2005 Odetta* Stan Rogers The Newport Folk Festival
2004 New Lost City Ramblers Mississippi John Hurt Bess Lomax Hawes
2003 Ralph Stanley Reverend Gary Davis SingOut!
2002 Hazel Dickens* Bill Monroe Harold Leventhal
2001 Lydia Mendoza* Paul Robeson Ralph Rinzler
2000 Doc Watson* Dewey Balfa Edith Fowke
1999 Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon The Carter Family Anne and Frank Warner
1998 Jean Ritchie* Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter American Folklife Center
1997 Bruce "Utah" Phillips* N/A Arhoolie Records (Chris Strachwitz)
1996 N/A Woody Guthrie
Folkways Records (Moe Asch*)
1995 Pete Seeger* N/A Alan Lomax

  * - denotes Living Lifetime Achievement Award winner has passed.

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