NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman Announces New Class of NEA Lifetime Honors Recipients

18 artists in jazz, folk and traditional arts, and opera receive total of $450,000

At the 173rd meeting of the National Council on the Arts today, NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman will announce the 18 artists who are receiving lifetime honorific awards for their significant contributions to their respective fields of jazz, folk and traditional arts, or opera. The NEA is awarding $450,000 to this group of remarkable artists, recognizing both their artistic achievements and supporting their ongoing work as performers, crafts people, teachers, mentors, scholars, and/or advocates.

The recipients of the NEA Jazz Master Fellowships, NEA National Heritage Fellowships, and NEA Opera Honors will receive an award of $25,000 and be celebrated at their respective awards ceremonies and concerts. They were chosen from nominations submitted by the public and reviewed by panels of their peers.

NEA 2012 JAZZ MASTERS [Go to website section]

Awards Ceremony & Concert:  
   Tuesday, January 10, 2012
   Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, New York

Jack DeJohnette, Drummer, Keyboardist, Composer 
   Born in Chicago, IL; lives in Willow, NY)
Von Freeman, Saxophonist 
   Born in Chicago, IL; lives in Chicago, IL)
Charlie Haden, Bassist, Composer, Educator 
   Born in Shenandoah, IA; lives in Agoura Hills, CA)
Sheila Jordan, Vocalist, Educator 
   Born in Detroit, IM; lives in Middleburgh, NY and New York, NY)
Jimmy Owens, Educator, Trumpeter, Flugelhorn Player, Composer, Arranger
   Born in Bronx, NY; lives in New York, NY) 

NEA 2011 NATIONAL HERITAGE FELLOWS [Go to website section]

Concert:     Friday, September 23, 2011
   Music Center at Strathmore, Bethesda, Maryland

Laverne Brackens, Quilter 
   Born in Butler, TX; lives in Fairfield, TX)
Bo Dollis, Mardi Gras Indian Chief 
   Born in New Orleans, LA; lives in New Orleans, LA)
Jim Griffith, Folklorist 
   Born in Santa Barbara, CA; lives in Tucson, AZ) 
Roy and PJ Hirabayashi, Taiko Drum Leaders 
   (Roy Hirabayashi was born in Berkeley, CA; PJ Hirabayashi was born in Ross,
   CA; both live in San Jose, CA)
Ledward Kaapana, Ukulele and slack key guitarist 
   Born in Kalapana, HI; lives in Kaneohe, HI)
Frank Newsome, Old Regular Baptist singer 
   Born in Pike County, KY; lives in Haysi, VA)
Carlinhos Pandeiro de OuroPandeiro player & percussionist 
   Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; currently lives in Los Angeles, CA)
Warner Williams, Piedmont blues songster 
   Born in Takoma Park, MD; currently lives in Gaithersburg, MD)
Yuri Yunakov, Bulgarian saxophonist
   Born in Haskovo, Bulgaria; currently lives in Bloomfield, NJ)

NEA 2011 OPERA HONOREES [Go to website section]

Awards Ceremony:     Thursday, October 27, 2011
   Harman Center for the Arts, Washington, DC

John Conklin, Stage Designer 
   Born in Hartford, CT; lives in New York, NY) 
Speight Jenkins, General Director 
   Born in Dallas, TX; lives in Seattle, WA) 
Risë Stevens, Performer 
   Born in Bronx, NY; lives in New York, NY) 
Robert Ward, Composer 
   Born in Cleveland, OH; lives in Durham, NC)

"These artists represent the highest level of artistic mastery and we are proud to recognize their achievements," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "Through their contributions, we have been challenged, enlightened, and charmed, and we thank them for devoting their careers to expanding and supporting their art forms."

All of the concerts will be free, but tickets will be required. Ticket information will be released on a rolling basis and will be made available at

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at


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