2020 NEA Jazz Masters Announced By The National Endowment For The Arts

Today, the National Endowment for the Arts announced the 2020 recipients of the most prestigious award in jazz – recognized as an NEA Jazz Master. The newest NEA Jazz Masters to be inducted are Bobby McFerrin, Roscoe Mitchell, Reggie Workman, and Dorthaan Kirk. Kirk also is receiving the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy.

Next year and for the first time, the NEA Jazz Maser ceremony and concert will be celebrated at a tribute concert on April 2, 2020, at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, California, in collaboration with SFJAZZ.

Acting Chairman of the Arts Endowment Mary Anne Carter said, “The 2020 NEA Jazz Masters have made an incredible impact on jazz, whether it’s through their artistic work to expand the musical boundaries of the genre, their educational contributions, or their efforts to reach new audiences for jazz. The National Endowment for the Arts is excited to celebrate these recipients, and to partner with SFJAZZ for the first time, bringing the NEA Jazz Masters events to a different part of the country.”

The NEA provided the following description of the latest recipients:

2020 NEA Jazz Masters:

  • Dorthaan Kirk—Jazz Advocate (2020 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy)

Kirk has been a major force at WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM, Newark Public Radio—working in various roles for more than four decades. Called “Newark’s First Lady of Jazz,” Kirk has been active as a curator and producer of jazz events primarily in and around Newark, New Jersey, and is an avid supporter of musicians and jazz education for children.

McFerrin is a master of vocal improvisation, using his four-octave range in various techniques, from scat singing to polyphonic overtone singing to vocal percussion, working both unaccompanied and with instruments. A ten-time Grammy Award winner, McFerrin has moved comfortably among genres, and has won awards in both jazz and classical.

Mitchell is considered one of the key figures in avant-garde jazz, integrating influences from everywhere—world music, funk, rock, classical—to create music that is at once beautiful and complex. He has been involved with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization founded in the mid-1960s to advance new creative music.

Workman is one of the premier bassists in jazz, performing in mainstream jazz as well as in the avant-garde scene, and a member of two of jazz’s most important groups: the John Coltrane Quartet and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He also is a professor at the New School’s College of Performing Arts in New York City, where he has been teaching since 1987.

For more information about the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA Jazz Master recognition, and Bios for each recipient, visit the following link to the NEA website: NEA Jazz Master

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