Virtual Concert Celebrates the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters on August 20, 2020

Collage of headshots of the found NEA Jazz Masters

Washington, DC—The National Endowment for the Arts, in collaboration with SFJAZZ, will host a special online-only concert in honor of the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters—Dorthaan Kirk (A.B. Spellman Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy), Bobby McFerrin, Roscoe Mitchell, and Reggie Workman—on Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT. 2017 NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater will emcee this premier event, which will include performances by acclaimed jazz musicians—including honorees McFerrin, Mitchell, and Workman—recorded from locations around the country. The 2020 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert is free to watch, and will replace the previously scheduled concert at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco that was postponed due to COVID-19.

“While we were disappointed to have to postpone last April’s events, this virtual concert will be an opportunity to bring together jazz fans around the world in celebration of the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We appreciate the creativity and dedication of all involved, from the staff at SFJAZZ to 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.”

The concert will feature remarks by the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters, as well as Chairman Carter and Randall Kline, founder and executive artistic director of SFJAZZ. In addition to the musician honorees, performers include Music Director Terri Lyne Carrington, Ambrose Akinmusire, Dee Dee Bridgewater, James Carter, Gerald Clayton, Vincent Davis, Morgan Guerin, Oliver Lake, Jevon McFerrin, Madison McFerrin, Taylor McFerrin, Kanoa Mendenhall, Junius Paul, and Steve Turre, as well as the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars (artists subject to change).

“It was a great honor for SFJAZZ to be selected as the venue for the presentation of the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters Awards,” said Randall Kline, SFJAZZ founder and executive artistic director. “We are so thankful for everyone at the Arts Endowment, all of the past and present NEA Jazz Masters, and the SFJAZZ staff for their improvisational spirit in bringing the virtual version of the concert to life. We are looking forward to all of our communities coming together to honor these legendary jazz masters.”

The 2020 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert will be broadcast at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT from and, as well as from the websites for All About Jazz and Jazz Near You, BMI, Inc., JazzTimes, KQED, the National Endowment for the Humanities, NPR Music, Smithsonian Jazz, Voice of America’s Khmer, Chinese, and Tibetan services, and WBGO. An archive of the concert will be available following the event at The concert will also be available via radio broadcast in California on KCSM 91.1FM and in Washington, DC on WPFW 89.3 FM.

You can join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #NEAJazz2020.

About the NEA Jazz Masters
Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded 157 fellowships to great figures in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Dianne Reeves, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, and George Wein. The NEA’s website features resources and content about them, including video biographies, and tribute videos, podcasts, and more than 350 NEA Jazz Moments audio clips.

NEA Jazz Masters Fellows are nominated by the public, including the jazz community. Nominations are judged by an advisory panel of jazz experts, including administrators, performers, producers, and a knowledgeable layperson. The panel’s recommendations are reviewed by the National Council on the Arts, which sends its recommendations to the chairman, who makes the final decision. The Arts Endowment encourages nominations of a broad range of individuals who have been significant to the field of jazz, through vocals, instrumental performance, creative leadership, and education. NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships are up to $25,000 and can be received once in a lifetime. Visit the Arts Endowment’s website for detailed information and to submit nominations by October 30, 2020.

The National Endowment for the Arts has also supported the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program, an effort to document the lives and careers of nearly 100 NEA Jazz Masters. In addition to transcriptions of the comprehensive interviews, the website also includes audio clips with interview excerpts.

Founded in 1983, SFJAZZ is a recognized international leader in jazz creation, presentation, and education. SFJAZZ explores the full spectrum of jazz—from the music’s origins in the African American community, to its diverse present-day expressions around the world. SFJAZZ works to develop the audience for jazz in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. SFJAZZ celebrates jazz as a living art form, built on a constantly evolving tradition. The West Coast’s biggest jazz presenter serves over 200,000 fans and students every year and has several award-winning resident jazz ensembles - the world renowned SFJAZZ Collective and the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars. SFJAZZ Center opened in 2013 in the vibrant performing arts district of San Francisco. The luminous SFJAZZ Center was designed by San Francisco architect Mark Cavagnero and the LEED-Gold certified center offers the superb acoustics of a great concert hall and the relaxed intimacy of a jazz club.

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Dorthaan Kirk

Dorthaan Kirk—recipient of the 2022 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy—has been a major force at WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM, Newark Public Radio—the only full-time jazz format station in New York and New Jersey—working in various role...

Bobby McFerrin

2020 NEA Jazz Master Bobby McFerrin is a master of vocal improvisation, using his four-octave range in various techniques, from scat singing to polyphonic overtone singing to vocal percussion, working both unaccompanied and with instruments.

Roscoe Mitchell

2020 NEA Jazz Master Roscoe Mitchell is considered one of the key figures in avant-garde jazz, integrating influences from everywhere—world music, funk, rock, classical—to create music that is at once beautiful and complex.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.


Liz Auclair (NEA)

Marshall Lamm (SFJAZZ)