Mark Humphrey, AP
Del McCoury and Laurie Lewis co-hosted the gala, which included a slew of performances and also honored those who had passed away in the last year. Highlights included Dailey & Vincent's a capella version of "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder," a performance by Steve Martin and a gaggle of banjo players, and the induction of the latest additions to the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.
Roland White gave a moving tribute to the late Andy Griffith, who had invited him and a group of young musicians to the fictional TV town of Mayberry as the Country Boys. "The Andy Griffith Show" star later asked the musicians to record an album with him. "We were young and scared, and Andy put us right at ease," Roland recalled. "He was always very nice to us." The TV star also brought Doug Dillard and his group, the Dillards, on the show as the Darlings, further introducing bluegrass to an entirely new audience. Doug Dillard died in May of this year.
Junior Sisk was at a loss for words every time he took to the stage to accept an award with his group, Ramblers Choice, who received Album of the Year for The Heart of a Song, and Single of the Year for "A Far Cry From Lester & Earl."
Russell Moore of Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out was named Male Vocalist of the Year. "This is a little overwhelming," he told the crowd. "I'm so honored, and in the next 12 months I will work hard to make you proud."
Pam Tillis performed on the show, joining Dale Ann Bradley for a tune they wrote together, "Somewhere South of Crazy." In accepting her award for Female Vocalist of the Year, Dale Ann said, "Bluegrass music has enriched my life more than I can say. God gave us this music because it tells simple stories and is close to the earth."
East Tennessee native Doyle Lawson and the late Ralph Rinzler were the 2012 Hall of Fame inductees. Doyle, who wiped away a few tears as he gave his induction speech, noted, "There are so many memories, far too many to mention here. It's been a great trip." In reference to the number of musicians who have played for him and then gone on to other bands, Doyle joked, "I refer to myself as the manager of the farm team for bluegrass."
He went on to say he had much more to offer the bluegrass community. "Just because they are putting me in the Hall of Fame doesn't mean I'm done," Doyle explained. "It was always about the music and it's still about the music."
The evening not only awarded bluegrass artists and musicians from the past year, it showcased an array of talented individuals, some veterans of the industry and others carrying on the timeless tradition of the genre. The evening started out with a group dubbed the Masters of Bluegrass, featuring J.D. Crowe, Bobby Hicks, Jerry McCoury and Bobby Osborne.
The awards show ended with 40-plus banjo players onstage honoring the late Earl Scruggs, after a tribute from actor-musician Steve Martin. "No one had ever heard anyone play like Earl," Steve said during a sentimental and sometimes tearful presentation. "After they heard him, everyone wanted to play like Earl."
Among those participating in the banjo tune were Eddie Adcock, Sam Bush, Kristin Scott Benson (of the Grascals), Alison Brown, J.D.Crowe, Doyle Lawson, Laurie Lewis, Del McCoury, Rob McCoury, Lynn Morris, Tony Trischka and Roland White. They were joined by the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, brothers Jonny (10), Robbie (13) and Tommy Mizzone (14), representing the younger generation carrying on the tradition of the bluegrass masters.
Del McCoury closed out the show with the Flatt & Scruggs gem, "Little Girl of Mine From Tennessee."
This was the last year the show will be presented from Nashville, as the awards show and the International Bluegrass Music Association's World of Bluegrass and Fan Fest will move to Raleigh, N.C., for three years, beginning in 2013.
For a complete list of the 2012 IBMA Award winners, click here.