NEA Announces the 2024 Recipients of NEA Jazz Masters Honors
Washington, DC—Continuing its more than 40-year history of honoring individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today announced the 2024 recipients of NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships—Gary Bartz, Terence Blanchard, Amina Claudine Myers, and Willard Jenkins, recipient of the 2024 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy. These fellowships include an award of $25,000 and the honorees will be celebrated at a free concert in Washington, DC, on Saturday, April 13, 2024, in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“Jazz is one of our nation’s most significant artistic contributions to the world, and the NEA is proud to recognize individuals whose creativity and dedication ensure that the art form continues to evolve and inspire new audiences and practitioners,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “We are thrilled to collaborate with the Kennedy Center again this year on a concert that will honor and celebrate these Jazz Masters’ contributions and the importance of jazz."
Gary Bartz has been one of the best purveyors of what he calls “informal composition” (as opposed to improvisation) on alto saxophone since the 1960s, working with such luminaries as Max Roach, Charles Mingus, Art Blakey, and Miles Davis. He has released more than 45 solo albums and appears on more than 200 as a guest artist, as well as working with some of the up-and-coming artists in jazz today.
Terence Blanchard is a seven-time Grammy Award-winner who has been a consistent artistic force for making powerful musical statements for over 40 years. From his stint with Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers to writing scores for Spike Lee and others, he is unique in the jazz world as an artist whose creative endeavors go far beyond the genre into composing music for television and film, conceiving grand operas, and collaborating with dance companies.
From her early beginnings as a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Amina Claudine Myers has gained acclaim as a skilled composer for voice and instruments, often displaying her gospel influences. Her move to New York City in the 1970s led her to prioritize her compositional work and to take on theatrical production projects.
Willard Jenkins has been involved in jazz as a writer, broadcaster, educator, historian, artistic director and arts consultant since the 1970s and is one of the major voices in promulgating the music and its importance to American culture. Currently the artistic director of the DC Jazz Festival and host of the Ancient/Future program on DC’s WPFW radio station, Jenkins is an authority on the local as well as national jazz scene. Jenkins is the 2024 recipient of the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy given to those who have made major contributions to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the American jazz art form.
More information on the 2024 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert, including how to reserve free tickets and watch the live webcast, will be available early next year. Past NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concerts are available to view on the NEA’s YouTube page.
“What a thrill to again bring the NEA Jazz Masters back to the Kennedy Center and have this particular class of greats honored at our National Cultural Center,” said Jason Moran, Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz. “Gary Bartz's saxophone has blazed trails with his dynamic phraseology and iconic tone for decades—he is representative for the truth in music; Terence Blanchard does it all, from the trumpet to the screen with a singular genius; Amina Claudine Myers has devoted endless time and energy to creating a new canon in the AACM, and when she’s at the keys, soul pours freely from her voice and fingers; and Willard Jenkins has wielded his pen to be a passionate amplifier for the music and the musician.”
About the NEA Jazz Masters
Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded 173 fellowships to great figures in jazz, such as Toshiko Akiyoshi, Regina Carter, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Donald Harrison, Jr., Yusef Lateef, Abbey Lincoln, Sue Mingus, Eddie Palmieri, Sonny Rollins, and Wayne Shorter. Explore the NEA’s website for photos and bios of all of the NEA Jazz Masters, as well as archived concerts, video tributes, podcasts, and more than 350 NEA Jazz Moments audio clips. 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.
Nominate an NEA Jazz Master:
The NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships are awarded to living individuals on the basis of nominations from the public including members of the jazz community. NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships are up to $25,000 and can be received once in a lifetime. Visit the NEA’s website for detailed information and to submit nominations. The deadline for nominations for the next class of honorees is October 31, 2023.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities nationwide and a catalyst of public and private support for the arts. By advancing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, the NEA fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States. Visit arts.gov to learn more.
About Jazz at the Kennedy Center
Kennedy Center Jazz, under the leadership of Artistic Director Jason Moran, presents legendary artists who have helped shape the art form, artists who are emerging on the jazz scene, and innovative multidisciplinary projects throughout the year. Annual Kennedy Center jazz events include the professional development residency program for young artists, Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead; NPR’s A Jazz Piano Christmas, the Kennedy Center holiday tradition shared by millions around the country via broadcast on NPR; and the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival, created in 1996 by the late Dr. Billy Taylor (Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz, 1994–2010). The Center currently co-produces the annual NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concerts, celebrating iconic figures in the music. To learn more about the Kennedy Center, please visit www.kennedy-center.org.
Liz Auclair (NEA), email@example.com, 202-682-5744
Brendan Padgett (Kennedy Center), BEPadgett@Kennedy-Center.org