National Endowment for the Arts Chairman, Rocco Landesman, announced this year's NEA National Heritage Fellowships, and we are proud to announce that Del McCoury is one of nine
recipients this year.
This award is the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts and each of the nine recipients will receive a one-time award of $25,000. The NEA National Heritage Fellowships public programs are made possible through the support of the Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation and Darden's family of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, and Seasons 52 restaurants.
Representing eight states, the nine recipients were chosen for their artistic excellence and their efforts to conserve America 's cultures for future generations. They come from a cross-section of ethnic cultures including Ghanaian, Irish, and Indian, and practice such diverse traditional art forms as Afro-Cuban drum building and Texas-style fiddling, as well as two art forms never before honored through the National Heritage Fellowships: lauhala (palm leaf) weaving and Bharatanatyam Indian dancing.
The award to Mr. McCoury reflects more than 50 years of work performing a truly American music. One of the greatest ambassadors for traditional bluegrass, he has been no less acclaimed for embracing offshoots of the 65 year old genre, embodying both aspects of his career through his annual Delfest music festival, where tradition is both honored and extended by the presentation of a wide array of bluegrass and string musics. Over the past two decades, he and his Del McCoury Band have become the most awarded act in the history of bluegrass, allowing him the opportunity to broaden its audience through appearances on late night television shows like David Letterman's and Conan O'Brien's, and at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to popular festivals like Bonnaroo and the Newport Folk Festival.
When told of the honor, McCoury responded, "I'm truly overwhelmed. All I've ever done is play the music I love, and I feel very fortunate just to have made a career of it. To receive an honor like this for doing something you love seems almost unreal, but I am very thankful."
The other 2010 recipients are Ghanaian drum master Yacub Addy, fiddler Jim "Texas Shorty" Chancellor, Lauhala weaver Gladys Kukana Grace, sweetgrass basketweaver Mary Jackson, Bharatanatyam Indian dancer Kamala Lakshmi Narayanan, Irish flute player Mike Rafferty and Afro-Cuban drummer and drum builder Ezequiel Torres.
In addition, the Bess Lomax Hawes Award, which recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage, was given to Illinois folklorist and editor Judith McCulloh. McCulloh has overseen the publication of a number of books that feature consideration of Del 's work, including Neil V. Rosenberg's and Charles Wolfe's monumental The Music Of Bill Monroe.
The 2010 awardees will come to Washington, D.C. in September for a series of events including an awards presentation and banquet at the Library of Congress, as well as a concert scheduled for Friday, September 24, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland .
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest annual national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.
For more information on the NEA, please visit http://www.arts.gov/. For more information on the Del McCoury Band, visit http://http://www.delmccouryband.com/
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