Four Smithsonian Folkways Collaborators Earn NEA National Heritage Fellowship Awards
Of the nine recipients of the 2011 NEA National Heritage Fellowships, four have been collaborators with Smithsonian Folkways.
They are folklorist Jim Griffith, Hawaiian slack key guitarist Ledward Kaapana, Piedmont songster Warner Williams, and Bulgarian saxophonist Yuri Yunakov. The National Endowment for the Arts recognizes these artists for their significant contributions to the preservation of American folk cultures.
Jim Griffith is the recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes NEA National Heritage Fellowship for his life-long work and research on the traditions of US-Mexican border cultures. He produced the 2002 album Heroes and Horses: Corridos from the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands.
A specialist of the Hawaiian ukulele and the slack key guitar, Ledward Kaapana has been performing solo and in groups for over 40 years. He performs on the albums Musics of Hawai’i and Folk Masters: Great Performances Recorded Live at the Barns of Wolf Trap.
Maryland guitarist and songster Warner Williams is being honored for his creative achievements to the Piedmont blues, which incorporates, among other genres, fiddle tunes, ragtime, and gospel. He the 2004 Smithsonian Folkways album Blues Highway with long-time partner Jay Summerour.
Saxaphonist Yuri Yunakov performs Bulgarian Roma music and is featured on the 2001 album New York City: Global Beat of the Boroughs.