See Mavis Staples, Arlo Parks and More Perform at 2021 A2IM Libera Awards

A2IM’s Libera Awards are the Grammys of independent music, the one time in the entire year that a huge percentage of that community gets (relatively) dressed up and gathers for a night of celebrating the indie sector’s wins and its continued vital importance to the global music world and economy.

For obvious reasons, for the past two years the awards have been held virtually, but that didn’t stop the community from gathering around their laptops again to celebrate as indie star Phoebe Bridgers, roots rocker Fantastic Negrito and British breakthrough artist Arlo Parks were among the big winners at the 2021 A2IM Libera Awards (which were presented by Merlin), and see stellar virtual performances from Parks, Negrito, Mavis Staples, Lecrae, Lido Pimienta, Yuna and more (Variety cover star Bridgers performed an acoustic version of her hit “Kyoto Song,” but it is not available for replay; don’t worry, there’s about a dozen other acoustic versions of the song available online). See the performances below.

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Among the many winners, Staples was honored with the Independent Icon Award, and the founders of Stax Records received the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award, which was accepted by former co-owner Al Bell, co-founder Jim Stewart, Doris Fredrick, daughter of co-founder Estelle Axton, and Deanie Parker, former record executive and Stax Records spokeswoman.

Concord, the owner of Stax Records, has pledged to raise $1 million in scholarships over the next five years for Stax Music Academy (operated by the Soulsville Foundation and home of the Memphis-based Stax Music Academy Rhythm Section).

Sweet Relief returned as A2IM’s official charity partner for the Libera Awards, donating 100% of proceeds raised during the show to career musicians and music industry professionals in need.

The 2021 A2IM Libera Awards were presented by Merlin and also sponsored by ADA; Amazon Music; Spotify; YouTube Music; Ingrooves; The Orchard; Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp LLP; Qobuz; Redeye Worldwide; and Virgin Music.

Full list of this year’s winners:

Best Spiritual Record

Sun Ra Arkestra – Swirling (STRUT)

Independent Champion (Presented by Merlin)


Best Blues Record

Fantastic Negrito – Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? (Cooking Vinyl Ltd.)

Best Rock Record (Presented by Mitchell; Silberberg & Knupp LLP)

Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death (Partisan Records)

A2IM Humanitarian Award

Killer Mike & EL-P of Run the Jewels (Jewel Runners, Inc.)

Best Hip-Hop/Rap Record (Presented by Virgin Music)

Run the Jewels – RTJ4 (Jewel Runners, Inc.)

Best Sync Usage

Run the Jewels (Jewel Runners, Inc.) – “Ooh LA LA” – Season three of Netflix’s Ozark

Best World Record (Presented by Redeye Worldwide)

Songhoy Blues – Optimisme (Fat Possum Records)

Altin Gün – “Ordunun Dereleri” (ATO Records)

Best Metal Record

Architects – “Animals” (Epitaph Records)

Best Classical Record

Erik Hall – Music for 18 Musicians (Steve Reich) (Western Vinyl)

Creative Packaging

Soccer Mommy – Color Theory limited edition back to school binder (Loma Vista Recordings)

Best Country Record

Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud (Merge Records)

Best Dance/Electronic Record

Caribou – Suddenly (Merge Records)

Best Punk Record

IDLES – Ultra Mono (Partisan Records)

Best Americana Record

Bonny Light Horseman – Bonny Light Horseman (37d03d)

Best Re-Issue

J Dilla – Donuts (Jelly Edition) (Stones Throw Records)

Best R&B Record

Thundercat – It Is What It Is (Brainfeeder)

Breakthrough Artist/Release (Presented by Ingrooves)

Arlo Parks (Transgressive/[PIAS])

Label of the Year (Small) (Presented by Spotify)

Daptone Records

Label of the Year (Medium)

Light In The Attic

Best Alternative Rock Record

Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher (Dead Oceans)

Best Folk/Bluegrass Record

Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess (Jagjaguwar)

Best Latin Record

Gabriel Garzón-Montano – Agüita (Jagjaguwar in partnership with Stones Throw Records)

Best Live/Livestream Act

Phoebe Bridgers (Dead Oceans)

Best Outlier Record (Presented by The Orchard)

Khruangbin – Mordechai (Dead Oceans)

Record of the Year (Presented by Amazon Music)

Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher (Dead Oceans)

Best Jazz Record (Presented by Qobuz)

Gil-Scott Heron & Makaya McCraven – We’re New Again – A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven (XL Recordings)

Marketing Genius

Beggars Group – Supporting Indie Retail #loverecordstores Campaign

Video of the Year (Presented by YouTube Music)

FKA twigs – “Sad Day” (Young Turks)

Label of the Year (Big) (Presented by ADA)

Sub Pop