National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2009 NEA National Heritage Fellowship Recipients
Award is nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts
May 14, 2009
Washington, DC – The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today announced the 2009 recipients of the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, the NEA National Heritage Fellowships. Eleven fellowships, which include a one-time award of $25,000 each, are presented to honorees from eight states and Puerto Rico. The NEA National Heritage Fellowships public programs are made possible through the support of the Darden Restaurants Foundation and its family of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, and Seasons 52 restaurants.
The 2009 awardees were chosen for their artistic excellence and contributions to their respective artistic traditions. They represent a cross-section of ethnic cultures including Cambodian, North Indian, and West African, and promote such diverse traditional art forms as accordion-driven zydeco, willow basketry, and Yoruba sacred song and drumming.
National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chair Patrice Walker Powell said, "The NEA is proud to celebrate these artists whose lifetime of service and dedication preserve our nation's diverse cultural heritage."
The 2009 NEA National Heritage Fellowship recipients are:
The 2009 Bess Lomax Hawes Award is awarded to Mike Seeger, a musician, cultural scholar, and advocate from Lexington, Virginia. The Bess Lomax Hawes Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage.
Profiles of the artists are available in the Lifetime Honors section of the NEA's Web site.
Among the diverse arts represented this year is a broad range of dance traditions, from Cambodian classical dance to improvisatory Kathak (North Indian) solo dance to the old-time social dance deeply rooted in pre-Revolutionary New England rural heritage. Two other musical forms honored, Yoruba sacred song and drumming, as well as accordion-driven zydeco music, are closely associated with dance.
Another common theme among the fellows is their commitment to education and training in their art; for example, Chitresh Das has been teaching and mentoring students for the past 38 years and LeRoy Graber demonstrates his craft at local schools and teaches basketmaking in the apprenticeship programs of South and North Dakota.
These honorees join the ranks of previous Heritage Fellows, including bluesman B.B. King, Cajun fiddler and composer Michael Doucet, cowboy poet Wally McRae, gospel and soul singer Mavis Staples, and bluegrass musician Bill Monroe. Since 1982, the Endowment has awarded 349 NEA National Heritage Fellowships. Fellowship recipients are nominated by the public, often by members of their own communities, and then judged by a panel of experts in folk and traditional arts on the basis of their continuing artistic accomplishments and contributions as practitioners and teachers. This year a 10-member panel reviewed 240 nominations for the 11 fellowships. The ratio of winners to nominees indicates the select nature of this national honor.
The 2009 awardees will come to Washington, D.C. in September for a series of events including a banquet at the Library of Congress and an awards presentation on Capitol Hill as well as a concert scheduled for Thursday, September 24, 2009 at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland.
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The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest annual national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency