NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jason Isbell may be the leading nominee for this year's Americana Music Association's Honors and Awards show Wednesday night, but the four-time nominee faces a strong challenge from multiple female nominees aiming to add more diversity to the genre.
Isbell is the sole male nominee going up against Brandi Carlile, Mary Gauthier and Margo Price for album of the year, and is also facing Carlile, Price and Lee Ann Womack in the song of the year category. Although Isbell's already earned two Grammys this year for his album "The Nashville Sound," the strength of the female artists may be overwhelming this year.
The hard-rocking country singer Price, who won emerging artist at the Americana Awards in 2016, has become a must-see act on the festival circuit, while Carlile's album, "By the Way, I Forgive You," has earned rave reviews from critics.
"I think it's amazing to see the female support," Price said Wednesday before the show began. "There are so many organizations that are lacking in that area. Now they've started making award shows just for women, which I think is kind of like a Band-Aid."
Gauthier's "Rifles and Rosary Beads" was a passion project created in collaboration with military veterans and their families, and Womack's song, "All the Trouble," proves that she remains in the top tier of country vocalists.
Carlile and Price are also nominated with Isbell and folk icon John Prine for artist of the year, which Prine won last year.
"I am really honored, especially honored to be involved this year when the Americana Association has made such an effort to shine a light on such deserving pioneering women," Carlile said before the show began.
"I have no defense against talented women," Isbell said. "I think they should win."
Buddy Guy, Irma Thomas and k.d. lang are all receiving lifetime achievement honors and will perform at Wednesday's show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. Rosanne Cash will receive the "Spirit of Americana" Free Speech award and will also perform.
All of the leading nominees are scheduled to perform during the show, including Isbell, Carlile, Price, Prine and Gauthier. Acoustic duo The Milk Carton Kids will host the show, replacing longtime host Jim Lauderdale.
The show can be watched online at www.NPRMusic.org .