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National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2019 NEA Jazz Masters

From Liz Aucliar, NEA –

Stanley Crouch — Photo by Frank Stewart

Each year, the National Endowment for the Arts bestows the nation’s highest honor in jazz—the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships—on individuals who have made significant contributions to the art form. Today, the NEA is announcing the four newest recipients of this lifetime honor—Bob Dorough, Abdullah IbrahimMaria Schneider, and Stanley Crouch, who is the recipient of the 2019 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy (bestowed upon an individual who has contributed significantly to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the art form of jazz). Sadly, Bob Dorough passed away shortly after being notified of his Jazz Masters honor. The 2019 recipients will be celebrated at a free tribute concert, which will take place on Monday, April 15, 2019 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and streamed online.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to celebrate jazz, an art form born in the United States that has since been embraced worldwide,” said NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “These four new NEA Jazz Masters have been key players in jazz throughout their lives and careers, ensuring that the music will continue to grow and reach new audiences.”

The 2019 NEA Jazz Masters are:

  • Stanley Crouch—Jazz Historian, Author, Critic, Co-founder Jazz at Lincoln Center (2019 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy)

Crouch is the author of eight critically acclaimed books and of hundreds of uncollected articles, essays, album liner notes, and reviews on jazz that has influenced the music and championed it for the general public. He also co-founded and served as artistic consultant for Jazz at Lincoln Center.  

Dorough’s career spanned more than 70 years in jazz as a singer, pianist, composer, and arranger. His distinctive vocals, clever lyrics, and strong melodies were well-known in the jazz world even before his compositions and vocals for the animation series Schoolhouse Rock!.

Ibrahim combines the rhythmic influences of South Africa with the improvisation of jazz to create his spiritually enriching music, whether performing solo, with a trio, a full band, or an orchestra. This blend of the traditional and the modern is reflected in his distinctive style, harmonies, and musical vocabulary.

Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative,” “majestic,” “heart-stoppingly gorgeous,” and “beyond categorization.” Primarily known for her highly original and provocative big band compositions written over the past three decades, she is unique in having written classical works as well, even stepping into rock through a collaboration with David Bowie.

2019 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert

The 2019 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert—produced in collaboration with the Kennedy Center, whose artistic director for jazz is Jason Moran—will take place on Monday, April 15, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall and also will be streamed live. The concert will feature performances in honor of the 2019 NEA Jazz Masters and will be free and open to the public. More information on how to reserve tickets will be available in Spring 2019; email publicaffairs@arts.gov to be added to the list to receive information when tickets become available.

About the NEA Jazz Masters

Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded 153 fellowships to great figures in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Dianne Reeves, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, and George Wein. The full list of NEA Jazz Masters and materials about them—including videos, podcasts, NEA Jazz Moments audio clips, and more—are available at arts.gov.

Recipients are nominated by the public, including the jazz community. Nominations are judged by a panel of experts, including previously-named NEA Jazz Masters. The panel’s recommendations are reviewed by the National Council on the Arts, which sends its recommendations to the NEA chairman, who makes the final decision. The NEA encourages nominations of a broad range of men and women 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. The NEA is currently accepting nominations for the 2020 class of NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships. The deadline is October 31, 2018. Visit the NEA’s website for more information and to submit a nomination.

The NEA also supports the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program, an effort to document the lives and careers of NEA Jazz Masters. In addition to transcriptions of the comprehensive interviews, the website also includes audio clips with interview excerpts. This project has transcribed the oral histories of nearly 100 NEA Jazz Masters.

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