Close-knit family group CHERRYHOLMES were the big winners at last night's (27OCT05) International Bluegrass Music Awards, when they scooped Entertainer Of The Year.

The prestigious ceremony, honouring contributions to country music, was a bittersweet affair for the Cherryholmes clan - it was at a former Bluegrass festival that they were inspired to form the music group in the first place, in a bid to cope with the death of their daughter and sister in 1999.

JERE CHERRYHOLMES commented on behalf of the six-piece group saying, "We just want to thank the Lord for all of his blessings of talent and for the stamina and energy of youth."

Other winners on the night included veteran singer LARRY SPARKS, who walked away with Best Male Vocalist for the second consecutive year. He also beat off other nominees to grab Top Album and Recorded Event for his album 40 - a nod towards his lengthy career. RHONDA VINCENT won Best Female Vocalist for a staggering sixth time.

The event, hosted in country music's spiritual home Nashville, Tennessee, saw new talent honoured as well, with THE GRASCALS, who recorded a cover of Elvis Presley's VIVA LAS VEGAS, scooping Emerging Artist Of The Year and Song Of The Year for ME AND JOHN AND PAUL, written by Harley Allen.