Big Ears Festival artists earn Grammy nominations and year-end honors


If you browse the Big Ears Festival 2022 lineup, you won’t find many well-known names.

Still, the artists playing at the March event in Knoxville are “at the top of their game,” festival founder Ashley Capps told Knox News.

You do not believe it ? Just check out the nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards, which include six artists from Big Ears.

This is nothing new for Big Ears, Capps said. The festival usually highlights genres with an inherently smaller audience.

“The festival has always been about diving a little deeper into what’s going on in the (music) world,” he said.

Who received the applications?

The nominations are “the icing on the cake” in encouraging people to notice the caliber of artists who come to Knoxville each year for the event, which draws an international audience for four days of music and performance art.

The 2022 festival is about to sell out, Capps said, and “we’re really excited with ticket sales this year.”

“For me, it’s always good to see artists being recognized because, hopefully, it inspires someone to listen to them and discover something new,” Capps said.

Grammy nominations are a good place to start:

  • Arooj Aftab – Best New Artist
  • Arooj Aftab – World’s Best Performance for “Mohabbat”
  • Caroline Shaw with So Percussion – Best Contemporary Classical Composition for “Narrow Sea” with Dawn Upshaw and Gilbert Kalish
  • Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah ​​- Best Jazz Solo
  • Miguel Zenón – Best Latin Jazz Album for “El Arte Del Bolero” with Luis Perdomo
  • Dafnis Prieto – Best Latin Jazz Album for “Transparency” by the Dafnis Prieto Sextet
  • Low – Best Engineering Album for “Hey What”

“A real affirmation” for the talent of artists

The Best New Artist category generally goes to “Biggest Pop Stars,” Capps said.

“This is a real affirmation of the power of (Aftab) music,” he said. “For Low to be nominated for Best Engineering Album – this is a band that has played Big Ears before. But this particular award is interesting because over the last few years they’ve really opened up their sonic palette as that group. ”

Capps noted that many Big Ears Festival performers are booked well in advance – before the 2022 Grammy nominations are revealed. Aftab, for example, was booked for the 2020 festival before it was canceled due to COVID-19.

Christian Scott performs at the National Museum of African American Music Celebration of Legends Benefit Concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. On Thursday, June 17, 2021.

The festival’s social media team highlighted other honors Big Ears received in 2021.

Mdou Moctar, a Nigerian musician hailed as a “guitar hero” by PBS, had the 10th best album of 2021, according to The Guardian. L’Rain’s album “Fatigue” ranks # 1 on The Wire’s year-end list.

Want to go?

The Big Ears Festival takes place March 24-27 at various venues in downtown Knoxville. The festival usually offers free programming in addition to performances exclusively for pass holders.

General Admission Weekend Passes are currently $ 300, plus fees. VIP experiences are sold out, and day tickets are available between $ 110 and $ 165.

For more information about the festival, visit


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