National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2013 NEA National Heritage Fellowship Recipients
Washington, DC--Whether it's teaching the Numu language of the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe at local schools or performing a ballad that dates back to the mid-17th century, the 2013 NEA National Heritage Fellows all share a passion for perpetuating and imparting to others the traditional art forms to which they have devoted their lives and careers. The nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, the NEA National Heritage Fellowships recognize folk and traditional artists for their artistic excellence and efforts to conserve America's culture for future generations. The fellowships include an award of $25,000.
NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa said, "From the Native-American art forms that can be traced to our country's origins to the artistic traditions introduced by our newest immigrants, the National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support and celebrate all of our country's folk and traditional arts and the artists who have dedicated their lives to protecting, celebrating, and sharing them with the next generation."
The 2013 NEA National Heritage Fellowship recipients are:
- Sheila Kay Adams, Ballad singer, musician, and storyteller (Marshall, North Carolina)
- Ralph Burns, Storyteller, Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe (Nixon, Nevada)
- Verónica Castillo, Ceramicist and clay sculptor (San Antonio, Texas)
- Séamus Connolly, Irish fiddler (North Yarmouth, Maine)
- Nicolae Feraru, Cimbalom player (Chicago, Illinois)
- Carol Fran, Swamp blues singer and pianist (Lafayette, Louisiana)
- Pauline Hillaire*, Tradition bearer, Lummi tribe (Bellingham, Washington)
- David Ivey, Sacred Harp singer (Huntsville, Alabama)
- Ramón "Chunky" Sánchez, Chicano musician and culture bearer (San Diego, California)
*Pauline Hillaire is the recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award. The Bess Lomax Hawes Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage.
Profiles of the artists are available in the Lifetime Honors section of the NEA's website, along with photos, audio, and video samples of their work.
This year's nine recipients are masters of diverse traditional art forms, including five that have never before been honored through the National Heritage Fellowships: Paiute storytelling (Burns), Mexican-American ceramic sculpture (Castillo), Romanian cimbalom (hammered dulcimer) playing (Feraru), Swamp blues (Fran), and Lummi oral traditions (Hillaire).
In addition, these artists show the importance of oral traditions to our nation's cultural heritage. Ralph Burns is not only a storyteller; he, along with Pauline Hillaire, are keepers of their tribes' languages, which are traditionally only passed down orally between generations. Sheila Kay Adams is descended from seven generations of singers and storytellers who perform the ballads and stories that were brought to the region by English and Scots-Irish settlers. And lastly, Ramón "Chunky" Sánchez uses story and song to communicate the history of the Chicano experience in southwestern California.
2013 National Heritage Fellowship Events in Washington, DC
The 2013 National Heritage Fellows will come to Washington, DC, for an awards presentation at the Library of Congress on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 as well as a free concert on Friday, September 27 at 8:00 p.m. at the George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium. Both events are open to the public. Concert tickets are first come, first served and will be available later this summer. The concert will also be webcast live at arts.gov. More information about these events will be available on the NEA website this fall.
Nominations for the 2014 NEA National Heritage Fellowships
The NEA is currently accepting nominations for the 2014 class of NEA National Heritage Fellowships. The deadline is July 15, 2013. Visit the NEA's website for more information and to submit a nomination.
About the NEA National Heritage Fellowships
The 2013 honorees join the ranks of previous Heritage Fellows, including bluesman B.B. King, Cajun fiddler and composer Michael Doucet, cowboy poet Wally McRae, gospel and soul singer Mavis Staples, and bluegrass musician Bill Monroe. Since 1982, the Arts Endowment has awarded 386 NEA National Heritage Fellowships, including the 2013 Fellows. 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. This year the panel reviewed 169 nominations for the nine fellowships. The ratio of winners to nominees indicates the select nature of this national honor.
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, visit arts.gov.
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 arts.gov.
Liz Auclair, NEA
NEA Public Affairs