Washington native and music legend Alice Stuart was honored as Best Performer at the prestigious Best of the West Awards Luncheon. The awards, held every year at the Annual Folk Alliance Regional-West Conference (FAR-West) wrapped up this past fall in Bellevue, WA, after four days of showcases, workshops, storytellers and singalongs.
Performers and industry representatives from across the Western US and Canada gathered at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency, which hosted the conference in 2016 and 2017. Other honorees were Peter Langston and Janet Peterson for the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, founded in 1974, receiving the Ambassador Award, and Sisters Folk Festival for the Organizational Achievement Award. All three honorees were toasted by their peers and gave a short performance.
Conference Organizer and Seattle multi-instrumentalist Joel Tepp gave a warm introduction and summary of Stuart’s many musical and cultural accomplishments, and placed them in history next to some of the legends she played with, including Doc Watson, Joan Baez, Jerry Garcia, John Prine, Albert King and Frank Zappa. She’s appeared in Guitar Player Magazine and Rolling Stone, received The Washington Blues Society’s Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards, and toured with Mississippi John Hurt.
Tepp chose these words to describe her music: “Reflection, humor, joy, irony and much more, all conveyed with pure conviction.” Before joining her on guitar and harmonica, Tepp mentioned her surviving a significant stroke four years ago to bring us, perhaps her best music ever, with “…new levels of depth, meaning, gratitude and lean expression…” Stuart proved his point as she heralded the huge crowd with a catchy original tribute to Memphis Minnie, a fun ditty about marrying a string of “jerks,” and a heartfelt ballad called, “I’ve Got Something for You,” in which she engaged the audience to sing along about coming of age and loving oneself. By the smiles and singing and laughter, it was evident to the entire room we were witnessing a powerful and sweet moment by one of the best artists of our time. For generations to come, we will surely be namedropping Alice Stuart on any list of legends we had the good fortune to witness or know.