BMI Affiliates Rhiannon Giddens & Tyshawn Sorey Named MacArthur Fellows

Posted in News on October 14, 2017

BMI is proud to share the news that singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter Rhiannon Giddens and instrumentalist, improviser, composer, ensemble leader and conductor Tyshawn Sorey have been selected to receive fellowships from the prestigious MacArthur Foundation. Fellowships award $625,000 to each individual recipient as an investment in their potential. Giddens and Sorey won the awards for exhibiting exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments, and potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

With extraordinary vocal abilities and emotional range afforded by her classical training, Rhiannon Giddens is a powerful presence on stage. Her musical goal is to enrich our understanding of American music by reclaiming African-American contributions to the folk and country genres, while seeking to reveal relationships between a range of musical traditions including gospel, Celtic, jazz and R&B. Succeeding admirably at these connections, Giddens released two solo albums: Tomorrow Is My Turn, which offers riveting interpretations of songs that were written or made famous by women spanning a multitude of musical styles; and Freedom Highway, which consists mainly of original compositions by the talented singer, songwriter and instrumentalist. The acclaimed album traverses the experience of African Americans from slavery to the present, offering both a recuperation of suppressed voices and a history lesson.

Sorey’s impressive musical abilities explore a multitude of cultures and musical traditions while employing tonal, rhythmic, melodic and lyrical phrasing that successfully pushes the creative envelope. Recordings include Koan, Alloy, Inner Spectrum of Variables and Verisimilitude, each of which is a unique signature of his expressive style and versatility. In addition to his own work as a genre-free composer, conductor, and ensemble leader, Sorey is also fluent in piano and trombone, while his virtuosity on percussion and drum set continues to make him a highly sought-after sideman for popular creative artists.

Recipients of MacArthur fellowships may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.

Congratulations, Rhiannon and Tyshawn, on these considerable honors!