Since 1982, The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) National Heritage Awards have been honoring some of the most renown men and women in our country’s folk and traditional arts.
Friday night, the NEA will honor the 2011 National Heritage Fellows at the Music Center at Strathmore. The NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert is a free concert that celebrates American folk artists for their contributions to our national cultural mosaic. For 30 years, the National Heritage Awards Concert has featured recipients of the nation’s highest honor in the folk and tradition arts. This year’s celebration will not only feature the 2011 honorees including: a saxophonist playing Bulgarian wedding music, Taiko drummers, and Mardi Gras Indians in full regalia; but it will also feature Warner Williams, a Piedmont Blues musician who grew up in Takoma Park, MD and currently resides in Gaithersburg, MD. Mr. Williams is a guitarist and songwriter who spent his entire career in Maryland and is a master of the Piedmont blues, an art form unique to this region.
Modeled after the Japanese “National Living Treasures” concept, and as part of its efforts to honor and preserve our nation’s diverse cultural heritage, the NEA annually awards one-time-only National Heritage Fellowships for master folk and traditional artists. These fellowships are intended to recognize the recipients’ artistic excellence and support their continuing contributions to our nation’s traditional arts heritage. The 2011 Fellows were honored with a Capitol Hill Awards Ceremony, on Wednesday, September 21st at the U.S Capitol Visitors Center. NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman and Members of Congress were on hand to present the Fellowship Awards to the recipients and Folklorist Jim Griffith was presented with the Bess Lomax Hawes NEA National Heritage Fellowships award for his significant contributions to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage. Friday night, at the Music Center at Strathmore, the celebration will continue with the Fellowships Concert, which starts at 8 pm. The event will be webcast live as well.
This years 2011 NEA National Heritage Fellows are:
- Quilter Laverne Brackens from Fairfield, TX
- Mardi Gras Indian Chief Bo Dollis from New Orleans, LA
- Taiko drum leaders Roy and PJ Hirabayashi from San Jose, CA
- Slack key guitarist Ledward Kaapana from Kaneohe, HI
- Old Regular Baptist singer Frank Newsome from Haysi, VA
- Frame drum player and percussionist Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro from Los Angeles, CA
- Piedmont blues songster Warner Williams from Gaithersburg, MD
- Bulgarian saxophonist Yuri Yunakov from Bloomfield, NJ
- Folklorist Jim Griffith from Tuscon, AZ
Tickets for the event are available at the Strathmore Box Office, you can watch the Live Webcast at 8 p.m, and join in the conversation on twitter – using the hashtag #NEAHeritage.
Note: All unclaimed tickets will be released 15 minutes before the concert. A stand-by line will begin at 7:00 p.m.
NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert
Friday, Sept. 23rd at 8 pm
The Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane; Bethesda, MD)
Cost: Free (but tickets are required)