Real Country Wins Big at 2023 Grammy Awards

Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde accept 2023 Grammy

This article has been updated. See below for list of country/roots winners.

It was a big day for real country at the 2022 Grammy Awards.

Before all the pomp, pop, and circumstance of the televised portions of the 2023 Grammy Awards, the Grammy Premier Ceremony transpired Sunday (2-5) afternoon in Los Angeles. This is where many of the country awards are given out, as well as awards for bluegrass, folk, Americana, and American Roots music.

Real country was a big winner early on, with Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde’s landmark song “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” winning for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. “Holy shit, we won a Grammy!” they said in acceptance, and called it a win for “real country.”

Written by Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde with Shane McAnally, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” is a classic country cheating song with a twist that not only received critical acclaim, but also went #1 on country radio, marking the first #1 song for Ashley McBryde.

Another win for real country came in the form of a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance to Willie Nelson for “Live Forever” from the recent tribute album Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver. And even though it is a performance award, it’s a big moment for the legacy of songwriter and Outlaw legend Billy Joe Shaver, who originally wrote the song.

The theme of real country continued when Cody Johnson’s “Til’ You Can’t” won for Song of the Year. It is a songwriter award, and Ben Stennis, who wrote the song with Matt Rogers was there to accept the award.

The theme was continued on the televised portion of the awards when Willie Nelson won Best Country Album for his recent album A Beautiful Time, giving him two wins on the day. A gorgeous album that was highly-acclaimed, the Grammy win affirms that Willie still has it here months before his 90th birthday. This gave true country a clean sweep at the 2023 Grammy Awards. Willie was not in attendance to receive the award.

Another big win for country roots went to Molly Tuttle, who won for Best Bluegrass Album for Crooked Tree as expected, but she didn’t get the opportunity to speak, even though she was in the room. It took her some time to make her way to the stage, so they moved on. Tuttle was also up for the all-genre New Artist of the Year, but unfortunately lost to jazz singer Samara Joy.

Zach Bryan fans will be slightly disappointed that he didn’t win for Best Country Solo Performance, but Zach Bryan was a good sport about it, tweeting out shortly afterward, “Grandpa used to talk about Willie for hours, never been such a pleasure to lose to someone!”

Brandi Carlile won Best Americana Album for In These Silent Days, thanking the Americana community for giving her a home, and for “being on the right side of history” when it comes to roots music. The win is also one for producers Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings. Was also up for all-genre Album of the Year, and Record of the Year for “You and Me on the Rock,” but did not win.

Brandi Carlile with Phil and Tim Hanseroth

Also relevant to the roots world, but happening in the rock categories, Brandi Carlile not only won a rock Grammy, she swept the song category with “Broken Horses” winning both Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. “Let’s rock and roll man!” Carlile said accepting the award. She tried to justify the wins by citing her Seattle roots, and the roots of her band in the city that helped birth grunge. She accepted the awards for, “Everyone in Seattle that made us want to strive for this incredible accolade.”

Listening to “Broken Horses,” could it be considered a rock song? Sure. No different than Jon Batiste’s song “Cry” that swept the American Roots categories in 2022 could be considered an American Roots song. But nobody would consider Brandi Carlile a rock artist, and more than people consider Jon Batiste an Americana artist.

Bonnie Raitt was a big winner in the Americana categories, winning both Best Americana Performance and Best American Roots Song for “Just Like That.” But that was just the beginning. She shocked the world when she won the all-genre Song of the year for “Just Like That” amid a stacked group of big pop contenders. In her shocked acceptance speech, she cited John Prine for being an inspiration for the song.

Also in the American Roots categories, Madison Cunningham won for Best Folk Album, and Aaron Neville won for Best American Roots Performance.

Edgar Winter won for Best Contemporary Blues album. “Well it’s good to be up there to represent skin tone diversity,” the albino performer joked.

Also relevant to the roots world, Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 20th Anniversary Edition won two Grammy Awards, one for Best Historical Album, and one for Best Liner Notes.

Find all of the winners relevant to country and roots below.

Best Country Album

“Growin’ Up,” Luke Combs
“Palomino,” Miranda Lambert
“Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville,” Ashley McBryde
“Humble Quest,” Maren Morris
“A Beautiful Time,” Willie Nelson – WINNER

Best Country Song

“Circles Around This Town,” Ryan Hurd, Julia Michaels, Maren Morris and Jimmy Robbins, songwriters (Maren Morris)
“Doin’ This,” Luke Combs, Drew Parker and Robert Williford, songwriters (Luke Combs)
“I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” Lori McKenna and Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
“If I Was a Cowboy,” Jesse Frasure and Miranda Lambert, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
“I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die,” Rodney Crowell and Chris Stapleton, songwriters (Willie Nelson)
“‘Til You Can’t” Matt Rogers & Ben Stennis, songwriters (Cody Johnson) WINNER

Best Country Solo Performance

“Heartfirst,” Kelsea Ballerini
“Something in the Orange,” Zach Bryan
“In His Arms,” Miranda Lambert
“Circles Around This Town,” Maren Morris
“Live Forever,” Willie Nelson – WINNER

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

“Wishful Drinking,” Ingrid Andress and Sam Hunt
“Midnight Rider’s Prayer,” Brothers Osborne
“Outrunnin’ Your Memory,” Luke Combs and Miranda Lambert
“Does He Love You — Revisited,” Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton
“Never Wanted to Be That Girl,” Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde – WINNER
“Going Where the Lonely Go,” Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

Best Americana Album

“In These Silent Days,” Brandi Carlile – WINNER
“Things Happen That Way,” Dr. John
“Good to Be … ,” Keb’ Mo’
“Raise the Roof,” Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
“Just Like That…,” Bonnie Raitt

Best American Roots Performance

“Someday It’ll All Make Sense (Bluegrass Version),” Bill Anderson featuring Dolly Parton
“Life According to Raechel,” Madison Cunningham
“Oh Betty,” Fantastic Negrito
“Stompin’ Ground,” Aaron Neville with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band – WINNER
“Prodigal Daughter,” Aoife O’Donovan and Allison Russell

Best Americana Performance

“Silver Moon (A Tribute to Michael Nesmith),” Eric Alexandrakis
“There You Go Again,” Asleep at the Wheel featuring Lyle Lovett
“The Message,” Blind Boys of Alabama featuring Black Violin
“You and Me on the Rock,” Brandi Carlile featuring Lucius
“Made Up Mind,” Bonnie Raitt – WINNER

Best American Roots Song

“Bright Star,” Anaïs Mitchell, songwriter (Anaïs Mitchell)
“Forever,” Sheryl Crow and Jeff Trott, songwriters (Sheryl Crow)
“High and Lonesome,” T Bone Burnett and Robert Plant, songwriters (Robert Plant and Alison Krauss)
“Just Like That,” Bonnie Raitt, songwriter (Bonnie Raitt) – WINNER
“Prodigal Daughter,” Tim O’Brien and Aoife O’Donovan, songwriters (Aoife O’Donovan and Allison Russell)
“You and Me on the Rock,” Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth, songwriters (Brandi Carlile featuring Lucius)

Best Bluegrass Album

“Toward the Fray,” The Infamous Stringdusters
“Almost Proud,” The Del McCoury Band
“Calling You From My Mountain,” Peter Rowan
“Crooked Tree,” Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway – WINNER
“Get Yourself Outside,” Yonder Mountain String Band

Best Folk Album

“Spellbound,” Judy Collins
“Revealer,” Madison Cunningham – WINNER
“The Light at the End of the Line,” Janis Ian
“Age of Apathy,” Aoife O’Donovan
“Hell on Church Street,” Punch Brothers

Best Traditional Blues Album

“Heavy Load Blues,” Gov’t Mule
“The Blues Don’t Lie,” Buddy Guy
“Get On Board,” Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder – WINNER
“The Sun Is Shining Down,” John Mayall
“Mississippi Son,” Charlie Musselwhite

Best Contemporary Blues Album

“Done Come Too Far,” Shemekia Copeland
“Crown,” Eric Gales
“Bloodline Maintenance,” Ben Harper
“Set Sail,” North Mississippi Allstars
“Brother Johnny,” Edgar Winter – WINNER

Best Rock Performance

“So Happy It Hurts,” Bryan Adams
“Old Man,” Beck
“Wild Child,” The Black Keys
“Broken Horses,” Brandi Carlile – WINNER
“Crawl!,” Idles
“Patient Number 9,” Ozzy Osbourne featuring Jeff Beck

Best Rock Song

–“Black Summer,” Flea, John Frusciante, Anthony Kiedis and Chad Smith, songwriters (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
–“Blackout,” Brady Ebert, Daniel Fang, Franz Lyons, Pat McCrory and Brendan Yates, songwriters (Turnstile)
–“Broken Horses,” Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth, songwriters (Brandi Carlile) – WINNER
–“Harmonia’s Dream,” Robbie Bennett and Adam Granduciel, songwriters (The War on Drugs)
–“Patient Number 9,” John Osbourne, Chad Smith, Ali Tamposi, Robert Trujillo and Andrew Wotman, songwriters (Ozzy Osbourne featuring Jeff Beck)

Song of the Year

–“Abcdefu,” Sara Davis, Gayle and Dave Pittenger, songwriters (Gayle)
–“About Damn Time,” Melissa “Lizzo” Jefferson, Eric Frederic, Blake Slatkin and Theron Makiel Thomas, songwriters (Lizzo)
–“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (The Short Film),” Liz Rose and Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
–“As It Was,” Tyler Johnson, Kid Harpoon and Harry Styles, songwriters (Harry Styles)
–“Bad Habit,” Matthew Castellanos, Brittany Fousheé, Diana Gordon, John Carroll Kirby & Steve Lacy, songwriters (Steve Lacy)
–“Break My Soul,” Beyoncé, S. Carter, Terius “The-Dream” Gesteelde-Diamant and Christopher A. Stewart, songwriters (Beyoncé)
–“Easy on Me,” Adele Adkins and Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)
–“God Did,” Tarik Azzouz, E. Blackmon, Khaled Khaled, F. LeBlanc, Shawn Carter, John Stephens, Dwayne Carter, William Roberts and Nicholas Warwar, songwriters (DJ Khaled Featuring Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, John Legend and Fridayy)
–“The Heart Part 5,” Jake Kosich, Johnny Kosich, Kendrick Lamar and Matt Schaeffer, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)
–“Just Like That,” Bonnie Raitt, songwriter (Bonnie Raitt) – WINNER

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