April 26, 2018 – New York City, NY: Each year, as a culmination of its Indie Week events, A2IM celebrates the art and achievements of those in the independent music community with the Libera Awards presented by SoundExchange in partnership with BuzzAngle with a special celebration of Merlin’s 10 Year Anniversary. With a diverse lineup of nominees and comedian Kate Wolff hosting, the 2018 Libera Awards will be the biggest and most exciting yet. As award night grows ever closer, A2IM is excited to announce this year’s extraordinary lineup of performers.
Fresh off of the release of her new album, Mental Illness, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Aimee Mann will grace the stage of the Libera Awards this year. With her release of eight studio albums including the much-beloved Magnolia soundtrack, as well as her collaborations with other artists ranging from Matthew Sweet to Styx, Mann has earned a place among the greatest songwriters of all time.
In one of the most anticipated and emotional performances of the evening, legendary funk and soul band The Dap-Kings will take the stage for a tribute to Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, featuring members of their bands, the Dap-Kings and the Extraordinaires. Their friend and fellow soul star Lee Fields will lead the band in his song “Wish You Were Here”.
Looking forward to his Libera Awards performance, Lee Fields shares. “Sharon Jones was like a little sister to me. So, when I sing this song, I know she can hear me in heaven.”
Sharon’s longtime friend and background vocalist (as well as one half of Daptone band Saun & Starr), Saundra Williams, will sing as well. Sharon Jones recorded six albums on Daptone Records as Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings and will be remembered for her fiery vocals and exhilarating onstage presence. Also a member of Daptone Records, Bradley was known as “the screaming eagle of soul,” wowing audiences with his James Brown-like moves and powerful, poignant performances.
“A2IM is thrilled to announce five extraordinary artists, who will be among those performing at the 2018 A2IM Libera Awards. These performers, as well as all of the nominees, demonstrate the diversity and musical depth of the independent community. We are especially honored to be hosting a tribute to the late Sharon Jones and the late Charles Bradley, both prior Libera Award winners.” Says Richard James Burgess, CEO of A2IM.
Featuring four male rappers – Li’l Rodney C!, MC Jazzy Jeff, K.K. Rockwell, and Keith Keith, Funky 4 + 1 was not only the first hip-hop group to feature a female MC, Sha Rock, but also the first out of the Bronx to get a record deal. In 1979, when all of the members were still under 17 years old, they signed with Enjoy Records and released their first single, “Rappin’ & Rockin’ the House.” At the time, the 16-minute-long track was the longest hip-hop song ever to be released. In 1981, Funky 4 + 1 made history as the first hip-hop group to appear on a national television show when they performed on Saturday Night Live. In 2008, their single “That’s the Joint” (released in 1980 after the group moved to Sugar Hill Records) was ranked by VH1 as one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time.
Says MC Jazzy Jeff about the upcoming award show: “We are truly honored to receive such an iconic award and to be recognized by A2IM. The Libera Awards shines a light on the true essence of all genres of music, and Funky 4+1 is thrilled to be representing hip hop.”
Sam Outlaw will take the stage, bringing his distinctive flavor of “SoCal country” that merges the twang of classic honky-tonk tunes with soulful West Coast singer-songwriter storytelling. His first album, Angeleno, was released in 2015 to international acclaim. The follow-up album, Tenderheart, has further cemented his place in both the independent and country music worlds.
Grammy-nominated guitarist and singer Raul Midon will also perform. Labeled by the New York Times as “a one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus,” Midon never fails to wow his audience. With his syncopated, percussive guitar-playing and his signature mouth-horn improvisations, Midon brings people’s hands together as he lays it all out onstage. Midon’s latest album, Bad Ass and Blind, was released in 2017 on Artistry Records.
Presented by SoundExchange in partnership with BuzzAngle, the 2018 Libera Awards will take place on June 21 at NYC’s PlayStation Theater. The award ceremony will top off Indie Week, A2IM’s four-day lineup of workshops and panels led by music industry leaders. Indie Week will be held from June 18 to June 21 at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, located on NYC’s Lower East Side. Designed to provide education and networking opportunities, Indie Week helps further A2IM’s mission of advocacy, education, and connection-building within the independent music community.
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A2IM is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade organization headquartered in New York City that exists to support and strengthen the independent recorded music sector. Membership currently includes a broad coalition of more than 550 Independently-owned American music labels. A2IM represents these independently owned small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) interests in the marketplace, in the media, on Capitol Hill, and as part of the global music community. In doing so, it supports a key segment of America’s creative class that represents America’s diverse musical cultural heritage. Billboard Magazine identified the Independent music label sector as 37.32 percent of the music industry’s U.S. recorded music sales market in 2016 based on copyright ownership, making Independent labels collectively the largest music industry sector.
The organization’s board of directors consists of the following: ATO Vice President Stephanie Alexa, President of Concord Music Group Glen Barros, Redeye Co-Owner Glenn Dicker, INgrooves EVP & General Manager Amy Dietz, Co-President of Mom+Pop Music Thaddeus Rudd, Big Machine COO Andrew Kautz, Beggars Group Founder/CEO Martin Mills, Hopeless Records Owner Louis Posen, Kill Rock Stars President Portia Sabin, Secretly Label Group Co-Owner Darius Van Arman and Razor & Tie President Vic Zaraya.
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