Musicians Jack DeJohnette, Colin and Eric Jacobsen, Claire Lynch, Joanie Madden, Eugene Rodriguez, Tony Trischka, and Edward White are among the 54 awardees (including four collaboratives) working in the visual, performing, media, and literary arts to receive one of 50 USA Fellowships from United States Artists. The fellows were chosen “for the caliber and impact of their work” and will receive unrestricted grants of $50,000 each. Panels of experts in each artistic discipline selected the winning artists from among a total of 438 nominated applicants.
In the area of music, the recipients represent a stylistically diverse array of talent:
Jack DeJohnette, USA Ford Fellow, Willow, NY
Jack DeJohnette is a jazz drummer, pianist, and composer. After studying at the American Conservatory of Music, he began his career playing R&B, hard bop, and avant-garde music in Chicago with his own groups and with Roscoe Mitchell and John Coltrane. In 1966, DeJohnette moved to New York. He has collaborated with most major figures in jazz history, including Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Chet Baker, Charles Lloyd, Betty Carter, and Eddie Harris. In January 2012, DeJohnette received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship.
Colin Jacobsen and Eric Jacobsen, USA Cummings Fellows, Brooklyn, NY
Brothers Colin Jacobsen and Eric Jacobsen co-founded the music ensembles Brooklyn Rider and The Knights. Colin is a violinist who first played to critical acclaim at age fourteen with Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic. His wide-ranging musical activities include performing with orchestras, such as those of Albany, Chicago, and San Francisco, and playing with dance and theater companies such as the New York City Ballet and the Mark Morris Dance Group. Eric is a conductor and cellist, as well as the music director of The Knights, an orchestra founded with the goal of bringing the camaraderie of chamber music to the orchestral stage. The Jacobsens are also touring members of the Silk Road Ensemble.
Claire Lynch, USA Walker Fellow, Hermitage, TN
Singer and songwriter Claire Lynch was a rare woman in the bluegrass field when she led the Front Porch String Band in the 1970s. When the group stopped touring in 1981, Lynch became an in-demand session vocalist and wrote songs that were recorded by Patty Loveless, The Seldom Scene, and Kathy Mattea, among others. She has sung back-up vocals with artists such as Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt. Lynch won the International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year Award in 1997 and in 2010 for her work with the Claire Lynch Band, which she formed in 2005.
Joanie Madden, USA Friends Fellow, Yonkers, NY
Joanie Madden is a composer, flutist, and whistle player of traditional Irish music. After studying with Irish flute player Jack Coe, Madden became the first American to win the Senior All-Ireland Championship on the whistle and is the top-selling whistle player, having sold over 500,000 solo albums. Madden has also performed on over 160 albums with artists such as Pete Seeger and the Boston Pops. She is the leader of the award-winning Cherish The Ladies, an all-female Irish music and dance ensemble that began in 1985 and has since released 14 albums. The group has performed with Joan Baez, Vince Gill, and The Chieftains, among others, and has given more than 250 solo concerts.
Eugene Rodriguez, USA Oliver Fellow, Richmond, CA
Eugene Rodriguez has played a pioneering role in the revival of Mexican folk music in California. In 1989, Rodriguez formed the youth group Los Cenzontles as a way to teach traditional Mexican music and dance to area youth, and the band has toured nationwide and internationally. In 1994, Rodriguez produced the group’s recording of Papa’s Dream with Los Lobos and Lalo Guerrero, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Musical Album for Children in 1995. Rodriguez has produced 20 CDs for Los Cenzontles, and he has also worked with musicians such as Ry Cooder and Linda Ronstadt, as well as Mexican and Mexican American folk masters.
Tony Trischka, USA Friends Fellow, Fairlawn, NJ
Celebrated and innovative banjo player Tony Trischka has inspired many other progressive players. Trischka started playing the banjo in 1963 and played with numerous bands until the 1980s, when he began recording with his band, Skyline, and worked on the soundtrack for Driving Miss Daisy. His 2007 album, Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, featured appearances by Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, and many other banjo luminaries, and received two International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards as well as a Grammy nomination. Trischka also received an IBMA award for Banjo Player of the Year.
Edward White, USA Lowe Fellow, Louisville, KY
Drummer Edward White studied master drum-making and playing with Danjuma Ighalo of Nigeria. In 1990, White founded the River City Drum Corps (RCDC), a cultural arts program that brings together traditional African drumming, drum making, and drum line performance and leadership for at-risk youth. The participants make their own “pipe drums” out of found materials, manage the RCDC, tour, and perform workshops in various communities. White has expanded the drum corps curriculum to Jefferson County public and Catholic schools and to other cities. He has received numerous awards, including the 2010 National Council of Negro Women’s Courage Award.
(—from the press materials)