Alumna Gillian Welch receives Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting

UC Santa Cruz alumna Gillian Welch (Photo: Paxton X)
The new album, Nashville Obsolete. comes out on September 18.
David Rawlings and Gillian Welch (Photo: Mark Seliger)

UC Santa Cruz alumna Gillian Welch and her musical partner David Rawlings took home a Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting at the 2015 Americana Music Awards Sept. 16.

Held at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, they were honored alongside fellow lifetime achievers Ricky Skaggs, Don Henley, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Los Lobos. Each of the honorees performed during the three-hour celebration.

The performances will air later this year on the PBS concert series, Austin City Limits.

“These artists have not only influenced the Americana community, but the musical landscape on the whole,” said Jed Hilly, executive director of the AMA. “They all have been an inspiration to our community.”

Welch graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1990 with an art degree. As an undergraduate, her senior work was in photography.

Throughout a two-decade long creative partnership, Welch and Rawlings have mostly recorded and performed under the name “Gillian Welch.” 

But tomorrow, the American roots duo will release their seventh studio album together and their second as the “Dave Rawlings Machine,” with Rawlings handling the lead-singing role.

The new album is titled Nashville Obsolete. Recorded on analog tape at Woodland Sound Studios in Nashville, it features seven original compositions written by Welch and Rawlings.

“In addition to the kind of 1930s/Depression/Dust Bowl thing we’ve always had going on, there’s a pretty strong 1970s thing going on, too,” says Welch.

The duo’s previous album, the Gillian Welch release The Harrow and the Harvest, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2011.

Before they embark on a world tour to support the new release, Welch and Rawlings will make a handful of appearances as Gillian Welch--including the closing slot at the inaugural AmericanaFest concert at the new Ascend Amphitheater in downtown Nashville. That show will also feature Loretta Lynn and Steve Earle.

Welch will also perform in Monterey at the Golden State Theater on Friday, October 2. Don’t miss it.