Boston Music Awards 2020: Bia leads the list of winners

Photo Credit: Epic Records

Reflecting 2020’s live music landscape as a whole, this year’s Boston Music Awards are a way more subdued affair than years past. With venues around Boston and across the country still shuttered due to our local and national leadership’s complete mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, there is no flashy awards banquet this year, usually held annually at Boston’s House of Blues. Instead the BMAs dropped the 2020 winners digitally via its homepage and social media, revealing recipients in 37 categories on Friday afternoon (December 11).

Leading the charge is BIA, the Medford-born, Los Angeles-based rapper who took home Artist of the Year honors as well as Hip-Hop Artist of the Year. No band or artist took home more than two awards: Among the double winners were Anjimile (Alt/Indie Artist of the Year, Vocalist of the Year); The Ballroom Thieves (Album of the Year for Unlovely, Folk Artist of the Year); Cliff Notez & Dephrase (Song of the Year for “Voodoo Doll”, Music Artwork of the Year for Social Absence); and Latrell James (Singer-Songwriter of the Year, Song of the Year for his feature on “Voodoo Doll”).

Two shuttered rock clubs were honored by voters: Allston’s Great Scott was named Intimate Live Music Venue of the Year, while Somerville’s ONCE Ballroom & Lounge was recognized for its Virtual Venue in the Live Music Stream of the Year category. Great Scott’s Carl Lavin was named Music Promoter of the Year, and Lavin was also among 10 recipients of the People’s Choice Award presented by MusicSpace, a new open-ballot write-in category that also recognized ONCE’s JJ Gonson and Bridget Duggan.


Among the media categories, Candace McDuffie was named Music Journalist of the Year, Omari Spears was named Music Photographer of the Year, and Vanyaland was named Music Publication of the Year, an honor we have received in 7 of our 8 years of existence.

“Although the 2020 awards are different from previous years, we still hope they bring a little positivity to what has been an incredibly difficult time for all,” the BMAs wrote in an email to media this morning. “The winners and nominees are all worthy of celebration and we can’t wait to do exactly that as soon as it’s safe.” 

Read the full list of winners below.

Artist of the Year: BIA
New Artist of the Year: Saint Lyor
Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Squirrel Flower
Album of the Year: The Ballroom Thieves, Unlovely
Song of the Year: Cliff Notez & Dephrase, “Voodoo Doll” ft. Latrell James
Video of the Year: Bad Rabbits, “WWYD (What Would You Do?)”

Alt/Indie Artist of the Year: Anjimile
Americana Artist of the Year: The Wolff Sisters
Blues Artist of the Year: Veronica Lewis
Country Artist of the Year: Ayla Brown
Dance/Electronic Artist of the Year: Honeycomb
DJ of the Year: SuperSmashBroz
Folk Artist of the Year: The Ballroom Thieves
Hip-Hop Artist of the Year: BIA
International Artist of the Year: Layth Sidiq
Jazz Artist of the Year: Ezra Platt
Metal Artist of the Year: Needle Play
Pop Artist of the Year: Leo The Kind
Punk/Hardcore Artist of the Year: Mallcops
R&B Artist of the Year: Miranda Rae
Rock Artist of the Year: PowerSlut
Singer-Songwriter of the Year: Latrell James
Vocalist of the Year: Anjimile
Session Musician of the Year: Tim Hall

Live Music Venue of the Year: The Sinclair
Intimate Live Music Venue of the Year: Great Scott
Live Production Engineer of the Year: Mike Green
Recording Studio of the Year: Q Division
Studio Producer of the Year: Miranda Serra
Music Promoter of the Year: Carl Lavin

Music Publication of the Year: Vanyaland
Music Journalist of the Year: Candace McDuffie
Music Photographer of the Year: Omari Spears
Music Artwork of the Year: Cliff Notez & Dephrase, Social Absence
Music Podcast / Radio Show of the Year: Above The Basement
Live Music Stream of the Year: Virtual Venue, ONCE Somerville
617Sessions Artist of the Year: Red Shaydez, “Lemme Go Talk My Sh**”
People’s Choice Award presented by MusicSpace: Alex Allinson, Bridget Duggan, Carl Lavin, Catherine Morris, Chris Hayes, JJ Gonson, Josh Kantor, Marc Picard, Megazoyd, Will Dailey