NEA National Heritage Fellows Celebrated at Richmond Folk Festival

Virginia Folklife Stage Presents Virginia Artists Who Received Nation's Highest Honor in the Folk and Traditional Arts

Virginia has long been a fertile ground for American traditional music, from the famous Bristol Sessions of 1927, featuring such acts as the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, to the town of Rugby, population 7, where Wayne Henderson crafts handmade guitars sought after by musicians from Eric Clapton to Gillian Welch. The state's place in folk and traditional arts has been recognized by the NEA National Heritage Fellowships, the nation's highest honor in the field. Twelve Virginians have received the award over the years -- including Henderson and Janette Carter, A.P. and Sara Carter's daughter -- and will be honored at the Richmond Folk Festival on October 13-14, 2012, with performances and tributes.

Formerly the National Folk Festival, the Richmond Folk Festival attracts more than 200,000 visitors annually, making it one of the largest folk festivals on the East coast. The Virginia Folklife Stage, produced by the Virginia Folklife Program, will feature performances by all of Virginia's living National Heritage Fellows -- including Tidewater gospel quartet and 2012 National Heritage Fellows the Paschall Brothers, who were honored in Washington, DC in early October and performed at the 2012 NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert -- as well as tribute performances for those who have passed on. For a full schedule, please visit the Richmond Folk Festival website.

Virginia's National Heritage Fellows are:

About the NEA National Heritage Fellowships

From 1982 to 2012, the Arts Endowment has awarded 377 NEA National Heritage Fellowships to folk and traditional artists in recognition of their artistic excellence and efforts to conserve America's culture for future generations, such as including pueblo potter Helen Cordero, Cajun fiddler and composer Michael Doucet, sweetgrass basketmaker Mary Jackson, bluesman B.B. King, cowboy poet Wally McRae, bluegrass musician Bill Monroe, and gospel and soul singer Mavis Staples. 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.

Visit for more information on the NEA's National Heritage Fellowships, including bios, interviews, and audio selections for the NEA National Heritage Fellows; portraits of more than 155 NEA National Heritage Fellows by Tom Pich; and publications such as a 30th anniversary publication featuring a DVD-Rom, created by Documentary Arts, with photos, videos, and audio recordings of all the Heritage Fellows, and a Masters of Traditional Arts Education Guide.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

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



Liz Auclair