The awards are presented by the International Pagan Music Association. Fans can vote for best male artist, best female artist and best group on the IPMA website.
Founded in June 2016, the IPMA was the brainchild of Melissa Anderson, the owner of Cauldron Radio, an online Pagan radio station.
“She came up with the idea that the Pagan musical community didn’t have any kind of recognition like other musical genres such as the Country Music Awards, the People’s Choice Awards and so forth,” said Alfred Willowhawk, vice president of the IPMA, and co-founder and high priest of the Wite Rayvn Metaphysical Church of the Ozarks ATC.
The IPMA website says its mission is “to support, proselytize, publish, research, and promote Pagan and alternative music and esoteric arts, sciences and concepts.”“Our biggest challenge is getting the word out and getting people to understand that this is a way to serve the community,” Willowhawk said. “It’s not about competition. It’s about recognition and celebration of all of us together. We’re a community that is furthering the exposure of this kind of music.”
“The International Pagan Music Association is a new thing – they’re getting it off the ground,” said singer-guitarist Gina LaMonte, an IPMA member who performs as both Mama Gina and her more bawdy alter-ego, Nine Toes the Bard. She was nominated for female artist at last year’s inaugural awards, and is nominated again this year.
“I’m tickled pink by their mission statement and by them really wanting to help Pagan musicians and get us a greater platform,” LaMonte said. “The awards celebration is a way to celebrate that.”
This year’s nominees also include: Ginger Ackley, Belthain, Burning Sage, Bran Cerddorion, Chronilus, B. Willie Dryden, Brian Henke, HobbyHorse, Mojo Kemp, Pan Galactic, Pasha and the Pagans, Rowena of the Glen, Tonya Threet, David Wood, Inkubus Sukubus, and Evil Masquerade.
Nomination is open only to IPMA members “for the most part,” Willowhawk said. An exception, according to the IPMA website, is if its board “feels that someone of merit has been overlooked.” In such cases, the board “may, by unanimous consent, select them to be included as well.”
Voting is open only to IPMA members. There are three levels of membership including a voting membership that costs five dollars annually, which “helps to defray the costs of the venue and the awards,” the website says.
Associate membership is $29 annually and is for non-musicians. Artist membership is $49 annually and is open to a band or individual musician who “have and play music to the general public.” The website details the benefits of each membership.
The IPMA’s definition of a Pagan artist is “amorphous,” Willowhawk said. “Our primary goal with our artists is esoteric and alternative music, and most of them just happen to be Pagan. We do find that the esoteric artists at least have Pagan leanings. The music is whatever music they do. It’s is not specific to the gods or the goddesses or any particular Pagan path. If you look at our musicians list, the artist members, we have individuals whose music is not necessarily Pagan. It’s not pop is the bottom line.”“Honestly, I don’t see any way we can compare ourselves to each other,” LaMonte said. “We are all so singular. I mean this is Pagan music we’re talking about. If you put Rowena [of the Glen] and Sooj [S.J. Tucker] and Damh the Bard and Burning Sage and me and Celia [Farran] and Tuatha Dea all in the same room, we’re just going to have a giant party.
“None of us are going to sit around and go, ‘Oh, I do that better.’ Nobody does that. We are all good friends, and the ones I haven’t met yet, I’m sure we’re going to be. I have yet to meet a Pagan musician who doesn’t open their hearts and go, ‘Here, let’s work on this together,’ or, ‘What can I do to help you?’ or, ‘Can you help me with this?’”
It was a recognition of such a spirit that led Anderson to ask LaMonte to found the Mama Gina LaMonte, Nine Toes the Bard Community Service Award. The award, which will be presented Sept. 15 at the IPMA event, is chosen by LaMonte, who draws from her widespread contact with Pagans and Pagan communities during her touring travels.
According to the IPMA website, the award “recognizes outstanding individuals within the Pagan community who have worked tirelessly to enhance and make better the Pagan music industry as well as the Pagan community as a whole.”
For music fans, the IPMA website includes artist profiles of both award nominees and other members, and links to their music, videos and websites.
The awards will be a two-day event. Activities on Sept. 14 will be at Dragonstone outside of Nashville and will include a barbecue and a premiere showing of the movie Enlightenment Spell by Mishu Films.
The awards ceremony will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at Cafe Coco’s Italian Café, 210 Louise Ave., Nashville. Scheduled performers include Burning Sage, B. Willie Dryden, Celia Farran, Ginger Ackley, Mama Gina, Rowena of the Glen and others.
Admission is $50 for both days or $35 for Sept. 15 only, and free both days for IPMA artist and associate members.
“If the awards ceremony gets people paying attention, that’s the whole point of this – to get more people on board, and not just Pagans but other people to listen to some of this music, because it’s amazing and it’s not all Pagan chants,” LaMonte said. “Some of it is just music that was written by a Pagan that’s not necessarily that Pagan-y style that we might have heard out of the ’60s or the ’70s. I’m just glad to be part of it and I’m hoping the awards grow that momentum.”