Chairman's Corner: August 13, 2020

Jo Reed: I'm Josephine Reed from the National Endowment for the Arts with The Chairman's Corner, a weekly podcast with Mary Anne Carter, Chairman of the Arts Endowment. This is where we'll discuss issues of importance to the arts community and a whole lot more.

The National Endowment for the Arts has a long history of supporting jazz, not only through our grants for our projects, but also through our NEA Jazz Masters Awards.  It’s the nation’s highest honor in jazz.  And on August 20 we are having an online celebration of the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters, and here’s Mary Anne tell us about it.  Hey, there.

Mary Anne Carter: Hi, Jo.  That’s right.  Next Thursday, August 20, at 8:00 P.M. Eastern Time, 5:00 P.M. Pacific, it’s the online concert celebrating the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters.  And this amazing class of 2020 includes Bobby McFerrin, Roscoe Mitchell, Reggie Workman, and Dorthaan Kirk.  A little bit about each although I don’t think many need introductions.  Bobby McFerrin is a master of vocal improvisation.  His four-octave range allows him to move from scat singing, to polyphonic overtone singing, to vocal percussion, working both with and without instruments.  Roscoe Mitchell is considered one of the leading figures in avant-garde jazz, integrating influences from world music, to funk, rock, and classical.  He’s performed on more than 85 recordings and written in excess of 250 compositions in jazz and classical music.  Reggie Workman is one of the premier bassists in jazz performing in mainstream jazz, as well as in all avant-garde ensembles.  He was a member of two of jazz’s most important groups, the John Coltrane Quartet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.  Dorthaan Kirk is receiving the AB Spellman Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy.  For more than four decades Dorthaan has been a major force at WBGO Jazz, 88.3 FM Newark Public Radio.  It is the only fulltime jazz station in the New York/New Jersey area.  She has been active as a curator, and producer of jazz events primarily in and around Newark and is an avid supporter of musicians and jazz education for children.  And I should add, Jo, all the Jazz Masters are deeply committed to jazz education.

Jo Reed: I feel like I want some applause around here.  Do you know what I mean?  I felt like applauding after everyone.  And this online concert is the celebration we’ve been promising since the previous scheduled celebration at SFJAZZ in San Francisco was postponed because of COVID-19. 

Mary Anne Carter: That’s right.  Of course, we were so disappointed to have to postpone last April’s event.  But this virtual concert will be an opportunity to bring together jazz fans from around the world in celebration of our 2020 Jazz Masters.

Jo Reed: And the arts endowment has a great partner in this.

Mary Anne Carter: We really do.  This special concert on August 20 is presented in partnership with SFJAZZ, a recognized international leader in jazz creation, presentation, and education, and they’re based in San Francisco.  And, Jo, if you don’t mind I’d really like to take a moment to thank SFJAZZ Founder and Executive Artistic Director Randall Kline for all of his and his staff’s extraordinary work putting together this really grand event.  Randall will also be hosting a live conversation online with the four NEA Jazz Masters immediately following the concert.

Jo Reed: We all want to know who’s going to be performing.

Mary Anne Carter: Well, it’s going to be quite a show.  2017 NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater will emcee the concert and perform.  The concert will also feature performances by acclaimed to jazz musicians recorded from locations across the country, and led by music director Terri Lyne Carrington.  And let me just say we so appreciate the creativity and dedication of all those involved including the many musicians who are performing in honor of the recipients so that we can continue our agency’s long tradition of honoring great individuals in jazz.  And your listeners can find a list of these wonderful performers at  You’ll find a ton of resources and content from videos to podcasts to audio jazz moments, all about the extraordinary 157 Jazz Masters.  And I’m talking about musicians like Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Dianne Reeves, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Archie Shepp and Eddie Palmieri.  It’s a great resource and a lot of fun.

Jo Reed: Give us the concert details one more time.

Mary Anne Carter: Okay, gladly.  Thursday, August 20 at 8:00 P.M. Eastern Time, 5:00 P.M. Pacific Time.  The concert is available for free for anyone to watch.  Just go to and you’ll see how to access the live stream.  And afterwards don’t forget to join in on the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag NEA Jazz 2020.

Jo Reed: Mary Anne, Thank you.

Mary Anne Carter: Can’t wait, Jo.  Thank you.

Jo Reed:  That was Mary Anne Carter Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

And one more time—the online concert celebrating the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters can seen next Thursday August 20—8 pm eastern /5 pm pacific. You can watch it at many sites including and of course
I’m Josephine Reed. Stay safe and thanks for listening.

Music Credit: “Renewal” composed and performed by Doug Smith from the cd The Collection.

The chairman is looking forward to honoring the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters on August 20th.