TRAVERSE CITY — Before Billy Strings was a bonafide bluegrass star, playing sparsely attended open-mic sessions in Traverse City, few might have predicted the sort of national acclaim that awaited the acoustic guitarist.

Now, there’s no denying his powerhouse status.

The Ionia County native and one-time Traverse City resident who grew up as William Apostol continues to attract accolades, with the Recording Academy last week nominating the guitarist for two Grammy Awards stemming from his latest studio album.

“Renewal,” which soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums chart after its release, landed two nominations — one for bluegrass album of the year, and the other for best American roots performance for the song, “Love and Regret,” which appears on the recording.

The Michigan-bred William Apostol, aka Billy Strings, won his first Grammy just last year, for best bluegrass album for “Home.”

“It’s been an amazing day,” Apostol told fans in a video he posted on his Facebook page after the nominations were announced.

“I bought a house this morning, I got this cool purple corduroy shirt, and oh yeah, we got nominated for two Grammys.”

The guitarist and his band continue their sold-out national tour in Texas this week (Dec. 3-4) and will wrap up 2021 with three straight homecoming shows at Grand Rapids’ GLC Live at 20 Monroe starting Dec. 30.

His Twitter and Facebook feeds were filled with congratulatory messages from fans cheering him on for another Grammy victory.

In the bluegrass album category, Billy Strings joins impressive nominees Bela Fleck (“My Bluegrass Heart”), The Infamous Stringdusters (“A Tribute to Bill Monroe”), Sturgill Simpson (“Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 1) and Rhonda Vincent (“Music Is What I See).”

The competition is just as stiff in the best American roots performance category, with Jon Baptiste (“Cry”), The Blind Boys of Alabama & Bela Fleck (“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free”), Brandy Clark & Brandi Carlile (“Same Devil”) and Allison Russell (“Nightflyer”).

“Thank you so much for listening to the record and for everybody that’s coming out on tour,” Apostol said. “Thank you to the Recording Academy, and we’ll see. I don’t know, I’m sort of rooting for Bela Fleck, too. That’s a damn good record. I just appreciate the love, everybody.”

Interestingly, Fleck’s nominated album features guest appearances by Billy Strings himself, along with notable musicians such as Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer,Bryan Sutton and Stuart Duncan.

The Grammys will be awarded on Jan. 31, with the evening ceremonies broadcast on TV by CBS.

Check out the full roster of nominees, including those for album and song of the year, online at

Email John Sinkevics at

Trending Video

Recommended for you