The son of the late troubadour Jim Croce, A.J. Croce is an artist with eclectic musical tastes. Initially a jazz-influenced blues-based artist with a New Orleans piano style, Croce was signed to his first record deal at age 19 and recorded two albums for Private Music. He has since evolved into so much more than that, embracing and incorporating a number of musical styles into his repertoire — ranging from art rock to Americana roots and beyond. An accomplished pianist, who also plays the guitar, Croce has recorded eight albums since 1993. He has appeared on such television shows as “Austin City Limits,” “CBS This Morning,” “Good Morning America,” and the David Letterman, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien late night shows. After spending three years in Nashville, where he was engaged in co-writing songs for other artists, Croce returned home to California and began writing for himself again. A new album entitled Twelve Tales is slated for release later this year.
Fellow California-based singer-songwriter Joel Rafael was named first-place winner in the Folk/Roots/Americana category for “Dance Around My Atom Fire,” a co-write with Woody Guthrie that is the opening track on America Come Home, his eighth album.
The International Acoustic Music Awards competition promotes excellence in acoustic music performance and artistry. Awards were announced in eight categories. In addition to Croce and Rafael (a past Kerrville New Folk winner who also serves on the board of directors of Folk Alliance International), first-place winners include Berteal (Best Group/Duo) for “How I Wanna Be;” Kat Parsons (Best Female Artist) for “Love Changes Everything;” Wes Carr (Best Male Artist) for “Blood and Bone;” The Unseen Strangers (Country/Bluegrass) for “Rambler’s Plea;” Loren Barringer & Mark Mazengarb (Instrumental) for “Onward;” and Mayu Wakisaka of Japan (Open Genre) for “Once.”
Chris Volpe was named Runner-up in Folk/Americana/Roots category for “World Isn’t Worth It.” Finalists included Harpeth Rising for “Nowhereland, “Janus Fiddle and The Majority for “Belle de Louisville,” Juke Joint Johnny Rizzo for “Going to Mississippi,” J.W. McClure for “The Reaper,” Terry McLeish for “Auction in Westmeath,” Sarah Morgan for “Hard Times,” Suzie Vinnick for “Save Me for Later,” and Claire Wyndham for “Ordinary Words.”
A panel of music industry judges evaluated entries based on music performance, production, originality, lyrics, melody and composition. In addition to valuable products and services, the winners and top runners-up in each category will be featured on a compilation CD that is distributed to radio stations.