The Night Owl Country Band accepting the ISSA Award for Album of the Year for "Off the Tracks." Photo credit: Submitted.
The Night Owl Country Band accepting the ISSA Award for Album of the Year for "Off the Tracks." Photo credit: Submitted.

Hope’s Night Owl Country Band has another award to add to their growing collection.

The band was awarded Album of the Year by the International Singer-Songwriters Association for their latest release “Off the Tracks” at the annual ISSA  Awards Show on August 6th in Atlanta, GA.

The band was one of more than 20,000 artists who were initially submitted for consideration. The way the process works is a band or artist is nominated by fans. From there voting is opened for one month where fans can vote once daily for their favorite band.

“So, our fans voted to make us finalists,” says Matt Lee, lead singer. “From the finalists, the panel from the International Singer-Songwriters Association comes together and decides who the winners of the awards are. And that is how we got Album of the Year - Gold.”

In the wake of COVID, the live music industry – like so many others – is still recovering. When so many artists are questioning whether pursuing a music career is still a worthy venture, the Night Owl guys have no doubt they're where they're meant to be.

Drummer Casey Johnson says the experience of winning this award has been surreal, but adds it is a validation.

“To get recognized for album of the year for an international conglomerate like that is one of those things that tells you it is still worth it,” Johnson says. “I think it means, there’s an element of validation and everything that comes along with that. We are moving in the right direction, and we need to continue moving in that direction.”

The day of the award show, Lee says, he and the guys were coming off playing a gig at CERAland the evening before and still somehow managed to be coherent enough to meet around 4 a.m. After much coffee, they guys caught a flight to Atlanta and arrived in time to prepare to take the stage later that evening.

“We performed ‘Country to the Bone’ on the main stage,” Lee says. “It was a full day for us. Got home around 2 a.m. and we were worn out.”

Lee recalls the excitement in the atmosphere was almost palpable while standing just offstage following their performance.

In addition to album of the year, the band had been nominated for four other awards, including band of the year, entertainer of the year, and song of the year for "Country to the Bone."

“When they called our name, I’ve said it a lot of times, it is one of those memories we will never forget,” Lee says.

If there is one thing about this award that makes it special for Lee, it is that it isn’t the band’s first recognition for an album. The band also won the Josie Music Award for Album of the Year for their second album release “From Here to Nowhere” in 2018.

Now, there’s nowhere to go but up.

As for what the future holds moving forward, well, that is a topic for another time. For now, the guys are content with tackling what’s immediately ahead and that is another series of shows, celebrating their seventh anniversary as a band in the next few months, and an appearance at this year’s Hope Heritage Days next month.

The guys say they are grateful beyond words for their fans and their dedication.

“Thank you, particularly for hanging with us,” Johnson says. “The entertainment industry isn’t where it was, but we know for a fact that every time we go out to play our people are going to be able to be there. And the fact that we know our people will be there give us a reason to keep doing this.”