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aria-label="Image credit"> Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires of The Highwomen.

Erika Goldring/Getty Images

The Highwomen's "Crowded Table," an exuberant anthem evoking both the progressive political spirit of 2020 and the longing for connection at the heart of this complicated year, won song of the year Tuesday as part of the 19th annual Americana Honors & Awards.

The prize was part of a three-category sweep by the genre-crossing supergroup, which includes Brandi Carlile (2019's artist of the year), Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires. The four women also won duo/group of the year and album of the year for The Highwomen.

John Prine, Americana music's humble beacon, who died this year from complications of COVID-19, was named artist of the year. Upon his passing, myriad artists whom Prine inspired began an outpouring of tributes that continues to this day, and this award acknowledges the music he was still making up until his final illness, as well as the powerful presence he maintained in Americana circles. Prine's classic songs shed light on the vulnerability and defiant resilience of ordinary, often lonely souls, and this win is particularly poignant coming in the middle of a pandemic that has taken the lives of so many.

Black Pumas, the Austin psychedelic soul group blending soul, funk, rock and Latin elements within a sound that's both future-leaning and historically aware, claimed the award for Best New Artist. Led by polymath producer and guitarist Adrian Quesada and riveting singer and songwriter (and former street musician) Eric Burton, Black Pumas are ascendant: They're also nominated for three Grammys, including best new artist, album of the year and record of the year (for the utopian "Colors").

But the biggest winners were The Highwomen, a strategic alliance uniting longtime Americana favorite Shires with country music paradigm-shifters Morris and Hemby, and multi-genre success story Carlile. The group succeeded in exerting women's power in the country mainstream, hitting No. 1 on Billboard's country albums chart upon its September 2019 release.

"Crowded Table," the album's second single, was cowritten by all four members and their close ally, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Lori McKenna. A celebration of chosen family and a call for spiritual generosity released at a time when evidence of America's cultural divisions was mounting, "Crowded Table" resonates with its refrain, "Everyone's a little broken, and everyone belongs."

It was an abbreviated year for the Americana Honors & Awards, which usually recognizes at least a dozen artist and features live performances during a ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium. The last prize of 2020 went to innovative fiddler Brittany Haas for best instrumentalist of the year. Haas' style brings together traditional "old time" playing with Scandinavian approaches and jazz-informed "freestyle" playing.

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KRCB 1049 radio logoBrowse around our site and you'll see a few ways you can join in the effort to make KRCB 104.9 a great community radio station for Sonoma County. You can record a message that we play on-air, give us some new ideas, and keep abreast of what we're doing. New ways to engage with us our coming soon.
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Each week, our correspondents from all over Sonoma County chime in with their weekly "postcard" of what people are talking about in their area. Not exactly news, not exactly not, it's our way to help make sure we look beyond the great industrial complex of Santa Rosa-Petaluma-Sebastopol! We play these pretty randomly throughout the week. Click below to get an immediate fix. 
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“Sonoma County Baby” began in 2013 as a way to connect new Sonoma County mothers with the history of the county. In cooperation with Sutter Health, a nice book was published that featured the stories of several dozen Sonoma County families, describing how they each came to Sonoma County. The book was given to new moms. The project’s website is here:
Now, we want to put stories like this on KRCB-FM, Sonoma County’s NPR station. How and when did your family come to Sonoma County? Does your story include some old Sonoma County landmarks that some of us might remember? What was interesting about it? Finding the interesting part is important! These recording are all short, less than a minute or under 100 words. That’s not enough time to tell the whole story—just the highlights. Here's a sample script that’s about the right length. Click "Read More" to hear what others have submitted.
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fullerThroughout the week, we play short segments about what birds are out in Sonoma County and what they sound like, from Harry Fuller. Harry spent his working career as a TV and Internet newsman in the Bay Area.  He’s been leading bird trips and writing about birds for thirty years.  He has written three natural history books: Freeway Birding, I-5 San Francisco to Seattle; San Francisco’s Natural History, Sand Dunes to Streetcars; Great Gray Owl in California, Oregon & Washington. He blogs regularly about birds:  And he frequently leads birding trips on the Pacific Coast. Check him out at

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