The Earls of Leicester

The Earls of Leicester

The Earls of Leicester were the big winners during the International Bluegrass Music Awards show, Oct. 1, at Raleigh, North Carolina’s Duke Energy Center for the Arts. The group –- which pays homage to the musical legacy of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and their band, the Foggy Mountain Boys — took home Entertainer, Album (for its Grammy Award-winning self-entitled debut), Instrumental Group and Gospel Recorded Performance (“Who Will Sing For Me”) of the Year awards. In addition, bandleader Jerry Douglas and bandmate Shawn Camp were named top dobro player and top male vocalist, respectively. Rounding out the group are Barry Bales (bass and vocals), Johnny Warren (fiddle) and Charlie Cashman (banjo and guitars).

Speaking during the awards show, Douglas said: “This is unbelievable fun, and we’re going to keep doing it.”

The Tar Heel State’s own Balsam Range, last year’s Entertainer of the Year and previous winner for Album and Song of the Year, was honored as Vocal Group of the Year, while its “Moon Over Memphis” was named Song of the Year. The acoustic quintet’s Tim Surrett was named Bass Player of the Year.

During the show, Balsam Range performed another one of its songs “Stacking Up The Rocks,” a cappella. Other performers included Flatt Lonesome, the Gibson Brothers (hosts of the event), The Del McCoury Band and Hot Rize.

Alison Krauss joined singer-guitarist Larry Sparks and his band, the Lonesome Ramblers, on a medley of his signature songs after inducting him into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. Sparks recently released a new album to mark his 50th year in bluegrass music. Also inducted into the Hall of Fame was banjoist Bill Keith – whom Bill Monroe had hailed as the first banjo player who could play banjo songs in a fiddle style and with a fiddler’s virtuosity. Musician and author Jim Rooney and fellow banjo player Alan Munde sang Keith’s praises in inducting him, while banjoist Noam Pikelny – a founding member of the Punch Brothers and last year’s Album and Banjo Player of the Year winner — played Keith’s tune “Beating Around the Bush” in tribute.

The 26th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards is the centerpiece of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA)’s five-day World of Bluegrass event that continues through Saturday, Oct. 3, with the Wide Open Bluegrass festival featuring free and ticketed events. Awards were voted on by the professional membership of the IBMA (, the trade association for the global bluegrass music community. Prior to the evening awards show, winners of five 2015 Distinguished Achievement Awards were recognized.

A listing of all the award winners appears below.

2015 International Bluegrass Music Awards

Entertainer of the Year: The Earls of Leicester
Female Vocalist of the Year: Rhonda Vincent
Male Vocalist of the Year: Shawn Camp
Vocal Group of the Year: Balsam Range
Instrumental Group of the Year: The Earls of Leicester
Song of the Year: “Moon Over Memphis,” Balsam Range
Album of the Year: The Earls of Leicester, The Earls of Leicester (produced by Jerry Douglas)
Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year: “Who Will Sing for Me,” the Earls of Leicester
Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year: “The Three Bells,” Jerry Douglas, Mike Auldridge, Rob Ickes
Emerging Artist of the Year: Becky Buller
Recorded Event of the Year: “Southern Flavor,” Becky Buller with Peter Rowan, Michael Feagan, Buddy Spicher, Ernie Sykes, Roland White and Blake Williams
Bluegrass Songwriter of the Year: Becky Buller
Banjo Player of the Year: Rob McCoury
Bass Player of the Year: Tim Surrett
Dobro Player of the Year: Jerry Douglas
Fiddle Player of the Year: Michael Cleveland
Guitar Player of the Year: Bryan Sutton
Mandolin Player of the Year: Jesse Brock

Inductees into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame: Bill Keith and Larry Sparks
Distinguished Achievement Awards: Alison Brown, Murphy Henry, the International Bluegrass Music Museum, “Bashful Brother” Oswald Kirby and Steve Martin