Winners in the 59th Grammy Awards’ American Roots Music Field were recognized during a Premiere Ceremony that streamed online prior to The Recording Academy’s televised awards show on Sunday, February 12, from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.Sarah Jarosz’ Undercurrent was named Best Folk Album, while “House of Mercy,” one of its 11 original songs, won the Grammy Award for American Roots Performance. Hailed by The New York Times as “one of acoustic music’s most promising young talents,” Jarosz, 25, is a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, claw hammer banjo and guitar). A Wimberley, Texas native, she relocated to New York City after graduating with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music. Undercurrent is her fourth album on Sugar Hill Records since Jarosz signed with the label at age 16, and her first without any covers on it. She co-wrote “House of Mercy” with Jedd Hughes.
Besides pursuing a career as a solo-touring and recording artist, Jarosz, who was an occasional guest host on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, is now part of the house band for the show under its new host, Chris Thile. She has also performed as part of a trio called I’m With Her, along with Sara Watkins (a co-founder of Nickel Creek) and Aoife O’Donovan (of Crooked Still fame).
The Grammy Award for Best American Roots Song went to “Kid Sister” – Vince Gill, songwriter (The Time Jumpers). A veteran country crooner, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Gill is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the recipient of more than 20 Grammy awards.
Best Americana Album honors were bestowed on William Bell, a veteran soul and R & B singer-songwriter, for This Is Where I Live. Coming Home by O’Connor Band with Mark O’ Connor was named Best Bluegrass Album. Blues Hall of Famer Bobby Rush’s Porcupine Meat was chosen as the Best Traditional Blues Album, while the award for Best Contemporary Blues Album went to Fantastic Negrito for The Last Days of Oakland. Rounding out the honorees in the American Roots Music Field was Kalani Pe’a, a Hawaiian singer-songwriter whose 2016 debut release, E Walea, was named Best Regional Roots Music Album.
Although Lori McKenna did not win any of the three awards for which she was nominated in the American Roots Music Field, she took home one for Country Song of the Year for writing “Humble and Kind.” Tim McGraw’s recording of the song topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart early last year, while her own rendition of it appears on McKenna’s Grammy-nominated July 2016 release, The Bird & The Rifle. McKenna also co-wrote the 2016 Grammy Award-winning Best Country Song, “Girl Crazy,” which was a huge hit for Little Big Town.