The four recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters Fellowships, the highest honor that the United States bestows upon jazz artists, have been announced. They are pianist-composer Abdullah Ibrahim, composer-arranger-bandleader Maria Schneider, critic-novelist Stanley Crouch and singer-songwriter-pianist Bob Dorough. The latter sadly passed away on April 23, 2018, shortly after being notified of his Jazz Masters honor.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to celebrate jazz, an art form born in the United States that has since been embraced worldwide,” said NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter via an official statement. “These four new NEA Jazz Masters have been key players in jazz throughout their lives and careers, ensuring that the music will continue to grow and reach new audiences.”
Since 1982, the NEA has awarded 153 fellowships to great figures in jazz, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sonny Rollins, Dianne Reeves, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, and George Wein, among others. Each award comes with a $25,000 prize and begins with a nomination process that's open to the public, with the intention of recognizing "a broad range of men and women who have been significant to the field of jazz through vocal and instrumental performance, creative leadership, and education."
The new class of NEA Jazz Masters will be inducted in a tribute concert and ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on Monday, April 15, 2019. The concert will feature performances in honor of the 2019 NEA Jazz Masters. It will be free and open to the public, and streamed online.