From John Mellencamp to Lucinda Williams and several surprises in between, the 9th annual AMA Awards didn’t disappoint!

Roots music took the forefront at the Americana Music Association’s 9th Annual Honors and Awards ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium Thursday night. The evening was chocked full of incredible artists and several surprise artists. Every year a surprise closes out the show and this year was no different, as Robert Plant performed a half-hour set for guests.

Jack White presented the Lifetime Achievement Award in Performance to Wanda Jackson. I had the honor of sitting down with the Queen of Rockabilly and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member. Stay tuned for the interview! Wanda celebrated the honor with a charged performance.

Afterwards, Jack who produced Wanda’s latest album, came out to the official after party at Mercy Lounge. Guitarist Mike Mills of REM also appeared to be in the house. The two artists chatted at the bar. Jack even took photos with fans, before settling in behind the soundboard for Wanda’s show. I stood front row as she entertained the crowd with sass and spunk. The queen from the 50’s who has emerged into 2010 covered Amy Winehouse’s I‘m no good and finished the song off by licking in between her fingers. Wanda followed up with a slew of her classic hits like; Fujiyama Mama and Lets Have a Party.

2010 Americana Lifetime Achievement Awards were also presented to John Mellencamp, Luke Lewis, Greg Leisz, and Brian Ahern. Rosanne Cash bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting on John Mellencamp. Mellencamp then performed a soulful rendition of Save Some Time to Dream. Lucinda Williams took the stage to honor Luke Lewis with the Lifetime Achievement Award for an Executive. Sam Bush stepped in to present the Lifetime Achievement Award for an Instrumentalist to Greg Leisz and Emmylou Harris led the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award for a Producer/Engineer honoring Brian Ahern.

Jim Lauderdale served again as master of ceremonies at the AMA Awards, while Buddy Miller led the house band.

The theme from film Crazy Heart, “The Weary Kind” earned 2010 Song of the Year honors: Co-written by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett. Patty Griffin and Darrell Scott presented the award. Bingham’s also received the Artist of the Year award from presenters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison of the Courtyard Hounds/The Dixie Chicks.

The multi-talented Rosanne Cash also enjoyed a memorable evening, as The List received Album of the Year. 2010 Spirit of Americana Free Speech in Music Award honoree Mary Chapin Carpenter and First Amendment Center President & CEO Ken Paulson presented the award.

The Avett Brothers walked away with a Duo/Group of the Year win, presented by John Oates and Mary Gauthier, while Hayes Carll was crowned New/Emerging Artist of the Year by past winners the Avett Brothers and Grace Potter. Buddy Miller earned another Instrumentalist of the Year title, presented by Robert Plant and Gibson Guitar Corp. President Dave Berryman.

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