Former Traverse City resident Billy Strings won the Grammy award for Best Bluegrass album on Sunday.

TRAVERSE CITY — After scoring the No. 1 bluegrass album of the year in 2020, highly acclaimed bluegrass guitarist Billy Strings has earned something even better: His first Grammy Award.

As part of the Grammy Awards’ “premiere ceremony,” the Recording Academy on Sunday afternoon announced that Billy Strings’ “Home” had won the Grammy for best bluegrass album.

With the awards ceremony streaming online – ahead of Sunday night’s nationally televised show on CBS, which is reserved for the top pop recordings — Billy Strings, aka William Apostol, thanked his mom and dad in Ionia County, his band, his team, his sponsors, the academy and co-producer Glenn Brown of East Lansing.

“Last, but most of all, all the fans who come out to the shows and see us play,” the former Traverse City resident said.

Apostol — from the town of Muir outside Ionia — topped some bluegrass royalty to receive the Grammy, including Danny Barnes (“Man on Fire”), Thomm Jutz (“To Live in Two Worlds, Vol. 1), Steep Canyon Rangers (“North Carolina Songbook”) and Various Artists (“The John Hartford Fiddle Tune Project, Vol. 1.).

The wunderkind musician has enjoyed a meteoric rise since first making a splash on the scene with Traverse City mandolinist Don Julin several years ago.

In 2019, he was named new artist of the year and guitar player of the year at the International Bluegrass Music Awards, after previously winning a momentum award from the International Bluegrass Music Association.

He followed up his No. 1 album, “Home,” with a sold-out national tour that closed out with a jam-packed, homecoming show on New Year’s Eve at The Intersection in Grand Rapids.

Apostol, who now makes his home in Nashville, was clearly excited and taken aback by the Grammy honor.

He wrote on Instagram that he was “beyond grateful for the amazing humans behind this record. … I wish I could hug every single person listed on these album credits. We’re gonna celebrate the only way we know how, by hitting the road for some live shows.”

Billy Strings and band have a full slate of concerts planned for 2021, starting later this month in Florida.

The Sunday afternoon Grammy Awards ceremony also honored the late John Prine, who won two Grammys for best American roots performance and best American roots song for “I Remember Everything” (co-written with Pat McLaughlin).

Sara Jarosz won for best Americana album for “World on the Ground,” Snarky Puppy for best contemporary instrumental album for “Live at the Royal Albert Hall,” Bobby Rush for best traditional blues album for “Rawer than Raw,” Fiona Apple for best alternative music album for “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” John Legend for best R&B album for “Bigger Love,” Nas for best rap album for “King’s Disease,” The Highwomen for best country song for “Crowded Table,” and The Strokes for best rock album for “The New Abnormal.”

Email John Sinkevics at

Trending Video

Recommended for you