Great Smoky Mountains Association Nominated for Two IBMA Awards


GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Great Smoky Mountains Association’s Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition is nominated for two International Bluegrass Music Association Special Awards: Graphic Design by Karen Key and Liner Notes by Ted Olson. 

The International Bluegrass Music Awards honor members of the bluegrass industry who work behind the scenes. Winners of the Special Awards will be announced Thursday, Sept. 27. Awards are voted on by the professional membership of the International Bluegrass Music Association—the professional nonprofit association for the bluegrass music industry. 

Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition is a two-disc set produced by Great Smoky Mountains Association in support of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It features 32 traditional folks ballads for a total of more than two hours of music. Featured performers include Doyle Lawson, Alice Gerrard, Laura Boosinger, David Holt, Rosanne Cash and many others.

The album includes work from both GSMA’s graphic designer Karen Key and Ted Olson, Appalachian Studies professor at East Tennessee State University—both nominated for their respective work on the project. 

For the album’s artwork, Key collaborated with Michael Mullan, an illustrator based out of Vermont. “Mullan has worked with GSMA before, illustrating our On Top of Old Smoky album, so I knew he would be a perfect fit for Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition since the two albums would be displayed next to each other in our stores,” said Key. 

When it came to designing the album’s cover, Key found her inspiration in the music. “I went through all the liner notes and listened to the music to capture the feel of the artwork,” she said. “The hand lettering really evokes a certain feeling that is parallel to traditional ballads. Producer Ted Olson is known for his considerate, impressive liner notes. I love how detailed he is for each song and I wanted to highlight that importance.”

Olson created the album’s extensive liner notes. This is his fourth recording with GSMA since 2010. “As with the three previous albums, Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition was created by a group of people committed to preserving and interpreting Appalachia’s cultural traditions. It has been an honor to work with all those people—and with the GSMA—on all four albums, and it is deeply gratifying to witness the positive response to these projects from respected organizations like the International Bluegrass Music Association,” said Olson. 

All proceeds from the sale of Big Bend Killing supports Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The two-disk CD can be ordered at and as a digital download at

Since its inception in 1953, Great Smoky Mountains Association has supported the preservation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by promoting greater public understanding and appreciation through education, interpretation and research. A non-profit organization, GSMA has provided more than $40 million to the park during its 65-year history. For more information, visit

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The Great Smokies Welcome Center is located on U.S. 321 in Townsend, TN, 2 miles from the west entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors can get information about things to see and do in and around the national park and shop from a wide selection of books, gifts, and other Smokies merchandise. Daily, weekly, and annual parking tags for the national park are also available.

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