Governor and First Lady Lee Announce Recipients of the 2021 Governor’s Arts Awards

Governor and First Lady Lee have announced the recipients of the Tennessee Governor’s Arts Award, Tennessee’s highest honor in the arts. Since 1971, the Governor’s Arts Awards have celebrated those who have made outstanding contributions to the state’s cultural life.

“Tennessee has a rich artistic heritage, and we are proud of these outstanding recipients who are leaders in the arts across our state,” said Gov. Lee. “Maria and I congratulate each of them, and we are proud of their accomplishments.”

The recipients come from all walks of life and symbolize the tremendous variety of the arts and culture of Tennessee. The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented in three different categories — Distinguished Artist, Arts Leadership and Folklife Heritage.

“The awards are a testimony to the value that the arts bring to our communities, our schools, and our lives,” said Jan McNally, Chair of the Tennessee Arts Commission.

The 2021 Governor’s Arts Awards recipients are:


Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol
Frank Bluestein, Germantown
Borderless Arts, Gallatin
Hola Hora Latina, Knoxville
Debbie Litch, Memphis


Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Nashville
Doyle Lawson, Kingsport
Carla Thomas, Memphis


Ludie Amos, Clarksville
Dr. Robert (Roby) Cogswell, Nashville
National Rolley Hole Marbles Championship and Festival, Hilham
Richard Turner, Stanton

“The arts help build stronger communities by enhancing the quality of life and the distinctive character of Tennessee places,” said Anne B. Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission. “The 2021 recipients of the Governor’s Arts Award have each contributed significantly in defining who we are as a state.”