The Culture of America: A Cross-Country Visit with the 2021 NEA National Heritage Fellows

On November 17, 2021, we honored the 2021 NEA National Heritage Fellows with our pre-recorded The Culture of America: A Cross-Country Visit with the National Endowment for the Arts 2021 National Heritage Fellows. Emmy Award-winning actor Jimmy Smits hosted the virtual trip across the country, taking viewers into the homes and communities where the fellows live and work.

Featured in the video:

  • Hear the music of Cedric Burnside as the rhythm of Hill Country Blues pulses through the neighborhoods of North Mississippi. Burnside credits his family before him for the knowledge and encouragement to pursue performing and writing music as he passes the tradition on to the next generation through his daughter. 
  • Join Tagumpay Mendoza De Leon and his Rondalla Club of Los Angeles to learn how the rondalla music of the Philippines connects the community of Filipino Americans to one another. “Uncle Pi” has been teaching rondalla for 20 years, helping his students learn about themselves and their Filipino culture. 
  • Connect with the essence of the Osage people as Anita Fields (Osage/Muscogee) shares Osage ribbon work and how her creative works have contemporary influences while paying tribute to the ancestors.
  • Take a trip down memory lane with Los Lobos as members of the band reminisce about their beginnings in East Los Angeles, California, and the folkloric musical influences that are embedded in their music, which provide the roots for the band’s own sound today.
  • Meet Joanie Madden at her home in the Irish American neighborhood of Yonkers, New York, to learn about her lifetime love of music that was passed down through her family and that she continues to share through her group, Cherish the Ladies, which plays traditional Irish music for audiences all over the world. 
  • Explore Chicago, Illinois, with Reginald “Reggio The Hoofer” McLaughlin as he taps his way through the park, in the subway, across bridges, and on the streets. McLaughlin’s infectious energy and love for dance convey a joy that will have viewers tapping along. 
  • Connect with Nellie Vera in Moca, Puerto Rico, where the intricate bobbin lace practice of sewing mundillo has a long history. Vera shares patterns and designs that were taught to her with love and how she continues to pass on the art form. 
  • Learn about the Easter Rock ritual as Louisiana’s Winnsboro Easter Rock Ensemble maintains the African American tradition which combines music and food with Christian and West African influences. 
  • Visit Tom Davenport at his home in Delaplane, Virginia, as he shares the importance of documenting history through filmmaking and how he created Folkstreams—a free independent film streaming platform—as a way to share American traditional cultures with the world. Davenport is the 2021 recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship, presented in recognition of an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage.

The Culture of America: A Cross-Country Visit with the 2021 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellows was produced by Hypothetical, in association with the National Council for the Traditional Arts, for the National Endowment for the Arts. More information can be found on the NEA National Heritage Fellowships page.

And find out more information about the 2022 class of National Heritage Fellows!


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