We’ve always known she’s a true country gal, and now she has the trophy to prove it! Ilse DeLange, one half of 2014 Eurovision runner-ups the Common Linnets, recently won an award from the Nashville-based Country Music Association for her long and successful career.
Ilse announced to her Instagram followers that she has received the CMA Jeff Walker Global Country Artist Award, given each year to “an international artist who has furthered the popularity and brought attention to Country Music”. Ilse is the first non-Anglophone recipient of the award, with past winners coming from Australia, Canada and the UK. The Dutch artist also shared a video message by none other than country superstar Carrie Underwood, congratulating Ilse on her achievement.
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Thank you so much for awarding me with the 2020 CMA Jeff Walker Global Country Artist Award. It’s a true honor to receive this international award from the Country Music Association. Nashville is my second home and has been a major influence in my musical life. @carrieunderwood thank you for this unbelievable surprise and your kind words! (swipe left for video) “The CMA Jeff Walker Global Country Artist Award recognizes outstanding achievements by a Country Music artist. The award acknowledges an international artist who has furthered the popularity and brought attention to Country Music”.
Eurovision fans will mostly be familiar with Ilse DeLange for Calm After the Storm, the song she co-wrote, co-produced and performed as part of the Common Linnets for the Netherlands at the 2014 Eurovision in Copenhagen. Ilse and her partner Waylon finished second, behind Conchita Wurst’s Rise Like a Phoenix, giving the Netherlands its best result since 1975 up to that point.
Well before her Eurovision performance, though, Ilse has been a constant presence in European country music since her debut album, 1998’s World of Hurt, which in fact she recorded in Nashville. She’s found success with many of her songs and albums, including her 2009 Dutch #1 single Miracle (as well as Calm After the Storm itself which topped charts across Europe). Her involvement with the genre also includes founding the country festival Tuckerville in the Netherlands – where she first met Carrie Underwood – as well as a recurring role on the musical drama series Nashville.
Alongside her success as an artist, Ilse has also expanded her Eurovision legacy. In 2019 she was part of the Dutch delegation to Tel Aviv, assisting the contest’s winner Duncan Laurence, whom she also coached when he competed on The Voice of Holland in 2014. In 2020, she took part in the Europe Shine a Light broadcast, where she performed the 1982 winning song Ein bißchen Frieden alongside Germany’s 2018 representative Michael Schulte.
Explaining the decision to grant Ilse the Global Country Artist Award, CMA vice president Milly Olykan commented that “Ilse consistently uses her platform to benefit artists in her own country, in addition to providing opportunities for Nashville Country artists to reach a wider European audience”. Among those local artists Ilse has opened doors for throughout her career is Waylon, her former partner in the Common Linnets, who represented the Netherlands as a solo act in 2018 with the country-rock song Outlaw in ‘Em.
Now into the third decade of her career, Ilse keeps championing country music in Europe, not least through her own music. Just last May, she released her latest studio album, Changes, which includes a new duet with Michael Schulte titled Wrong Direction.
Are you fans of Ilse DeLange? Hoping to see her take part in Eurovision again? Waiting for more country music in the contest? Let us know in the comments below!