NEA Arts Magazine

Nuestra Música


Lorenzo Martínez playing violin

Lorenzo Martínez, 2003 NEA National Heritage Fellow, with his band, Reflexiones. Photo: Jim Saah

The National Endowment for the Arts welcomed Latino musicians to the nation’s capital on June 23rd with Latino NEA National Heritage Fellows concerts and workshops. In partnership with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the NEA sponsored these events as part of Nuestra Música: Music in Latino Culture, a program of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

The Latino NEA National Heritage Fellows are six artists representing traditions originating in Mexico, New Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico—with instruments ranging from violin to jarana (small guitar) and timbales to batá drums. These musicians are among 33 Latino artists honored through the NEA National Heritage Fellowship program, which confers the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Each year, the NEA awards $20,000 fellowships to 10 master folk and traditional artists. These fellowships, awarded through nominations from the public, recognize the recipients’ artistic excellence and support their continuing contributions to our nation’s traditional arts heritage. The NEA National Heritage Fellowship program began in 1982.

NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, who is of Mexican descent, said, "It gives us great pleasure to partner with the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of New Mexico, in presenting these six NEA National Heritage Fellows. These artists, whose music demonstrates the compelling diversity and depth of musical traditions practiced in the United States, promise to provide exciting concerts and workshops."