Crys Matthews’ “Changemakers” garnered song of the year honors at the 2022 International Folk Music Awards, presented Wednesday, May 18. Wednesday was also the opening night of the 34th annual Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City, Mo.
Matthews is the 2017 NewSong Singer-Songwriter Competition Grand Prize winner. As part of her prize, she recorded the six-track album These Old Hands at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, NC. It was produced by Gar Ragland of NewSong Recordings and released on Friday, October 11, 2019 in celebration of National Coming Out Day. The date was significant for the queer activist artist whose songwriting frequently draws on themes of social justice and the myriad expressions of love.
Since winning the International NewSong Competition, Matthews has performed at the Sundance Film Festival, the Kerrville Folk Festival, and The Kennedy Center. In her TedTalk “Sing, Don’t Shout—An Alternative Approach,” Matthews spoke about being raised in a small town in southeastern North Carolina by an A.M.E. preacher, and how she witnessed the power of music from an early age.
Changemakers is Matthew’s latest effort. The record delves into heavy topics such as immigration, the opioid crisis, Black Lives Matter, and gun safety. But it’s also about hope: “As a social-justice songwriter, it is my duty to keep breathing that hope and encouragement into the people who listen to my music,” Matthews says on her website.
Matthews performed on the 2022 International Folk Music Awards show, as did fellow nominees John Smith and Diana Jones (also a former NewSong Recordings artist). Allison Russell was awarded artist of the year and album of the year. Russell and Matthews were both featured last year on the Adobe And Teardrops Podcast “Juneteenth Pride w/ Terry Blade.”