Olivia Records Principals to receive 2018 Americana Honor

Read about the fourth Americana honorees for AmericanaFest 2018

Americana Music Festival and Conference 2018

Honorees for the 2018 Americana Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive

Olivia Records’ Judy Dlugacz & Cris Williamson



Photos: Irene Young

The final recipients for Americana Honors 2018 have just been announced by the Americana Music Association.

Judy Dlugacz and Cris Williamson, two of the Olivia Records founders, are named as recipients of the 2018 Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive.  The honor will be presented at the 17th annual Americana Honors & Awards, which will take place Wednesday, September 12 at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium.

Olivia Records was established in 1973 and quickly became a leading and go-to independent label during the 1970s, releasing and distributing over forty albums and selling around one million records from artists including Cris Williamson, Meg Christian and June Millington.

One of those records was Cris’ “The Changer and the Changed,” which, with its groundbreaking songs about same-sex love, became one of the best-selling independent releases of all time and has been named by NPR Music critic Ann Powers as “the cornerstone of the feminist ‘women’s music’ movement.”

The seed for Olivia Records was when Cris suggested during a segment on Washington, D.C.’s “Sophie’s Parlor,” one of the first female-focused radio shows, that a record company should be formed to specialize in female artists.  This was during a time when the majority of record labels had only a handful of women on their roster because female artists were not perceived to be commercially viable.

The collective of Olivia Records, including Judy Dlugacz, Williamson, Christian, Ginny Berson, Jennifer Woodul and Kate Winter, proudly served at the forefront of the women’s music movement, which was a revolutionary movement in the 1970’s that involved music created, performed and marketed specifically to women.   This revolutionary movement, which involved music created, performed and marketed specifically to women, laid out an unprecedented foundation more than four decades ago, setting the stage for artists who followed like Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls and Mary Gauthier to share their truth in song.

Along with the rest of the Olivia group, Judy Dlugacz and Cris Williamson created unprecedented opportunities in the industry for women by hiring female session players, actively teaching the women of audio production so they were able to step into these more male-dominated roles in the studio, locally sourcing independent distributors through openly recruiting interested concert-goers at live shows.

“Music has the power to change people’s hearts and minds,” Judy remarked, “and those who were most affected by the music were women who loved women. In a time when it took tremendous courage to come out as LGBT, Olivia spoke to an audience that wanted to be found but often didn’t want to be identified.”

Today, LGBT artists have the innovative work of Olivia Records to thank in part for opening the doors.

This announcement follows the recent unveiling of 2018 Americana Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance recipient Irma Thomas, Americana Trailblazer k.d. lang, and Lifetime Achievement Award for Instrumentalist honoree Buddy Guy.  This year’s nominees include Artist of the Year contenders Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Margo Price and John Prine.


Want to share this moment of Americana music history with us?

The Americana Honors and Awards Show is a part of the Americana Music Festival and Conference which runs from September 11 to 16 2018.  You can be there with us as part of our TriFest Music Tour (we have two places left, closing in two weeks).



Read about the fourth Americana honorees for AmericanaFest 2018


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Author: Rob Dickens

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