National Endowment For The Arts Announces 2007 Recipients of Nation's Highest Honor in the Folk and Traditional Arts
Event is part of the 25th anniversary celebration of program
June 30, 2007
Washington, D.C. - The National Endowment for the Arts announced last night the 2007 recipients of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships, the country's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Twelve fellowships, which include a one-time award of $20,000 each, are presented to honorees from nine states. The awardees were chosen from among 259 nominations on the basis of their artistic excellence, cultural authenticity, and contributions to their field. The NEA National Heritage Fellowship program is presented with support from the Darden Restaurants Foundation.
The 2007 Fellows announcement was made by NEA Chairman Dana Gioia at last night's Smithsonian Folklife Festival Ralph Rinzler concert which this year honored Bess Lomax Hawes. Ms. Hawes is an influential advocate, educator, and producer as well as the first director of the folk and traditional arts program at the NEA and creator of its National Heritage Fellowship program. NEA National Heritage Fellows who performed at the concert included John Cephas, Piedmont blues musician, Liz Carroll, Irish fiddler, and Michael Doucet, Cajun fiddler and leader of Beausoleil. The concert was part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the NEA National Heritage Fellowship program.
Chairman Gioia said, "I am pleased to celebrate the 25th anniversary with the announcement of such a diverse and stellar group of artists. In addition to the sheer excellence and cultural significance of their work, this year's honorees demonstrate how vital is the role of persistence in pursuing an artistic journey. Creativity and talent so often take a profound level of dedication to develop into art that is, as in these cases, worthy of national recognition."
The 2007 NEA National Heritage Fellowship recipients are:
The 2007 Bess Lomax Hawes Award goes to photo documentarian, author, and exhibit curator Roland Freeman of Washington, D.C.
Sidki Conde is an African musician and dancer who at age of 14 contracted polio but learned to dance on his hands to surmount this difficulty. At a young age, Pat Courtney Gold and Julia Parker were sent to Indian school where tribal language and beliefs were discouraged but they never gave up their interest in their cultural heritage. And Elaine Hoffman Watts, a Jewish grandmother, chose to drum in klezmer bands, even though there were few, if any, women as role models in that pursuit. Biographies for the fellowship recipients are attached.
These honorees join the ranks of previous Heritage Fellows, including bluesman B.B. King, Cajun fiddler and composer Michael Doucet, cowboy poet Wally McRae and acclaimed performers Shirley Caesar, Doc Watson, and Bill Monroe. Since 1982, the Endowment has awarded 327 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 September, the NEA National Heritage Fellows concert will again be the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland. Opened in February 2005, the Music Center is a 1,976-seat concert hall and education center in a state-of-the-art, fully accessible facility.
Twenty-fifth anniversary activities for the NEA National Heritage Fellows program include the release of the 78-page book National Heritage Fellowships, 1982-2007, and companion DVD and performances by individual Fellows and themed groups of Fellows at festivals throughout the country.
Darden Restaurants, Inc. of Orlando, Florida is the world's largest casual dining company in sales and market share. The Darden Restaurants Foundation is a private, not-for-profit entity committed to funding an array of philanthropic programs including those focused on arts and culture, and education. The employees of Darden's Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and other restaurants are actively involved in local programs in the communities in which they live and work.
For more information, contact the NEA Office of Communications at 202-682-5570 or visit the NEA Web site at www.arts.gov.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency