BMI Songwriters Top List of NEA National Heritage Fellows

Posted in News on September 11, 2006
Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the National Heritage Fellowships to noted individuals in the folk and traditional arts for "their artistic excellence, cultural authenticity and contributions to their field." Virtually every one of the award winners who writes songs is a member of BMI.

Past musical recipients of the National Heritage Fellowships include B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Doc Watson and Bill Monroe. This noteworthy list of more than 60 individuals and groups includes representatives of the blues, gospel, bluegrass, Tejano and Cajun fields. Its diversity illustrates BMI's dedication to the roots of American music and the nation's cultural heritage.

BMI's 2006 NEA National Heritage Fellowship recipients:

Henry Gray is a widely respected blues pianist from Baton Rouge, La. He played keyboards in the legendary Howlin' Wolf band for 12 years (1956-68) before retuning to his native Louisiana and becoming one of the best known players in the Gulf region. His numerous albums illustrate his notable "swamp-blues" style. photo: Brian Smith

Doyle Lawson of Bristol, Tenn., is one of the most respected bluegrass and gospel performers in the field. He began playing professionally at the age of 11, and joined ensembles led by Jimmy Martin and J.D. Crowe, as well as the Country Gentlemen. In 1979, he founded the band Quicksilver, which has won the coveted Vocal Group of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association for the last five years.

Mavis Staples has been a powerhouse vocalist in the gospel and r&b fields for nearly 50 years. She formed the Staples Singers along with her siblings and late father Roebuck "Pop" Staples (a 1998 Fellowship recipient). Chart-topping songs such as "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There" on Memphis's Stax Records possess countless fans. In recent years as a solo artist, she has collaborated with Prince, Bob Dylan and Marty Stuart.

Complete list of BMI National Heritage Fellowship recipients:

Francisco Aguabella [1992]
Afro-Cuban drummer
Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Alfonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin [1986]
African-American Creole Accordionist
Eunice, La.

Pedro Ayala [1988]
Mexican-American accordionist
Donna, Texas

Kenny Baker [1993]
Bluegrass fiddler
Cottonwood, Tenn.

Dewey Balfa [1982]
Cajun fiddler
Basile, La.

Eddie Blazonczyk [1998]
Polish-American Musician/Bandleader
Bridgeview, Ill.

Charles Brown [1997]
Blues pianist & composer
Berkeley, Ca.

Chuck Brown [2005]
African-American musical innovator
Brandywine, Md.

Michael Burke [2001]
Irish Fiddler
Portland, Ore.

Liz Carroll [1994]
Irish-American fiddler
Chicago, Ill.

Rapael Cepeda [1983]
Bomba musician/dancer
Santurce, Puerto Rico

Wilson "Boozoo" Chavis [2001]
Credo Zydeco accordionist
Lake Charles, La.

Clifton Chenier [1984]
Creole accordionist
Lafayette, La.

Joseph Cormier [1984]
Cape Bretton accordionist
Waltham, Mass.

Elizabeth Cotton [1984]
African-American songster/songwriter
Syracuse, N.Y.

Luderin Darbon/Edwin Duhon [2002]
Cajun fiddler and accordionist
Sulphur, La./Westlake, La.

Dixie Hummingbirds [2000]
African-American gospel quartet
Philadelphia, Pa.

Michael Doucet [2005]
Cajun fiddler, composer and band leader
Lafayette, La.

Jerry Douglas [2004]
Dobro player
Nashville, Tenn.

David "Honeyboy" Edwards [2002]
Blues guitarist/singer
Chicago, Ill.

Fairfield Four [1989]
African-American acapella gospel singers
Nashville, Tenn.

Canray Fontenot [1986]
African-American creole fiddler
Welsh, La.

Clarence Fountain & the Blind Boys [1994]
African-American gospel singers
Atlanta, Ga.

Johnny Gimble [1994]
Angle western swing fiddler
Dripping Springs, Texas

Henry Gray [2006]
Blues piano player, singer
Baton Rouge, La.

Eduardo "Lalo" Guerrero [1991]
Mexican-American singer/guitarist/composer
Cathedral City, Calif.

Juan Gutierrez [1996]
Puerto Rican drummer
New York, N.Y.

John Lee Hooker [1983]
Blues guitarist/singer
San Carlos, Calif.

John Jackson [1986]
African-American songster/guitarist
Fairfax, Va.

Wanda Jackson [2005]
Early country, rockabilly and gospel singer
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Santiago Jimenez, Jr. [2000]
Tejano accordionist/singer
San Antonio, Texas

Bessie Jones [1982]
Georgia Sea Island singer
Brunswick, Ga.

Raymond Kane [1987]
Hawaiian slack key guitarist/singer
Wai'anae, Hawaii

Ali Akbar Khan [1997]
North Indian sarod player & raga composer
San Anselmo, Calif.

Riley "B.B." King [1991]
African-American bluesman
Itta Bena, Miss./Las Vegas, Nev.

Doyle Lawson [2006]
Gospel and bluegrass singer, arranger, bandleader
Bristol, Tenn.

Robert Jr. Lockwood [1995]
African-American delta blues guitarist
Cleveland, Ohio

Valerio Longoria [1986]
Mexican-American accordionist
San Antonio, Texas

Israel "Cachao" Lopez [1995]
Afro-Cuban bassist/composer/band leader
Miami, Fla.

Albert "Sunnyland Slim" Luandrew [1988]
African-American blues pianist/singer
Chicago, Ill.

Wade Mainer [1987]
Appalachian banjo picker/singer
Flint, Mich.

Brownie McGhee [1982]
Blues guitarist
Oakland, Calif.

Jim & Jesse McReynolds [1997]
Bluegrass musicians
Gallatin, Tenn.

D.L. Menard [1994]
Cajun musician/songwriter
Erath, La.

Lydia Mendoza [1983]
Mexican-American singer
Houston, Texas

Bill Monroe [1983]
Nashville, Tenn.

Jack Owens [1993]
Blues singer/guitarist
Betonia, Miss.

Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins [2000]
Blues piano player
La Porte, Ind.

Ola Belle Reed [1986]
Appalachian banjo picker/singer
Rising Sun, Md.

Domingo "Mingo" Saldivar [2002]
Conjunto accordionist
San Antonio, Texas

Earl Scruggs [1989]
Bluegrass banjo player
Madison, Tenn.

Simon Sheheen [1994]
Arab-American oud player
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ralph Stanley [1983]
Appalachian banjo player/singer
Coeburn, Va.

Mavis Staples [2006]
Gospel, rhythm & blues singer
Chicago, Ill.

Roebuck "Pops" Staples [1998]
African-American gospel/blues musician
Dolton, Ill.

Koko Taylor [2004]
Blues musician
Chicago, Ill.

Sanders "Sonny" Terry [1983]
Blues musician
Holliswood, N.Y.

Henry Townsend [1985]
Blues musician/singer
St. Louis, Mo.

Othar Turner [1992]
African-American fife player
Senatobia, Miss.

Albertina Walker [2005]
Gospel singer
Chicago, Ill.

Don Walser [2000]
Western singer/guitarist
Austin, Texas

Arthel "Doc" Watson [1988]
Appalachian guitar player/singer
Deep Gap, N.C.

Claude "The Fiddler" Williams [1998]
African-American jazz/swing fiddler
Kansas City, Mo.

Dewey Williams [1983]
Shape note singer
Ozark, Ala.

Nimrod Workman [1986]
Appalachian ballad singer
Mascot, Tenn./Chattaroy, W.V.


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