Pictured backstage Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville are BMI Award-winning songwriter Dennis Morgan, BMI's Bradley Collins, Kris Kristofferson, BMI's Deanna Bruton, and awards show host Jim Lauderdale.
BMI Award-winning writer Kris Kristofferson received the 2003 "Spirit of Americana" Free Speech Award during the association's annual awards show. Presented by the First Amendment Center in partnership with the Americana Music Association, the honor recognizes Americana musical artists for careers that are marked by civic and social involvement.
A lifelong activist for social justice and human rights, Kristofferson was selected by the two groups for blending that activism with his music and professional career and concerns about politics, world affairs and armed conflict. The nonpartisan award recognizes Americana musical artists for careers that are marked by civic and social involvement.
In 1965, Kristofferson turned down an assignment to teach at West Point and, inspired by songwriters like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, moved to Nashville to pursue his music. Kristofferson achieved remarkable success as a country songwriter at the start of the 1970s. His songs "Me and Bobby McGee," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "Sunday Morning Coming Down," and "For the Good Times," were all chart-topping hits. He has starred in more than 44 films and recorded more than 25 albums. His latest CD is Broken Freedom Song: Live From San Francisco, released in July on Oh Boy Records.
Dobro maestro Jerry Douglas was named Instrumentalist of the Year. Lifetime Achievement honors were given to Oh Boy recording artist John Prine as a songwriter and to Sam Phillips as an executive.
The 2003 Americana Awards show, held during the AMA's annual conference, is sponsored by Gibson/Baldwin, BMI, Welk Music Group, and the First Amendment Center.