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Spotlight on American Folk Masters
A Shared History with the National Endowment for the Arts

Since 1967, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival has been made richer by its partnerships with colleagues, communities, and organizations throughout the United States and around the world. One of our long-standing associations has been with the National Endowment for the Arts and its Folk & Traditional Arts Program.

Every year since 1982, the NEA has awarded National Heritage Fellowships to a broad range of traditional artists in recognition of their excellence and their contributions to our nation’s diverse heritage. More than 400 individuals and groups from every region of the United States have been honored by this prestigious award—100 have been Smithsonian Folkways Recordings artists, and 209 have participated in the Folklife Festival.

For our 50th anniversary, we recognize some of the extraordinary artists who have received the NEA National Heritage Fellowship. They continue to sustain the cultural heritage of their communities through their crafts, music, and rituals as teachers, innovators, and advocates.

“The artists we honor as part of our NEA National Heritage Fellowship awards are testament to the diversity, ingenuity, and creativity that characterize this nation,” says Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We are so grateful for the gifts they have brought to all our lives.”

Meet the Fellows, hear their songs, and learn their stories.

Ralph Rinzler Stage

June 29
BeauSoleil Quartet avec Michael Doucet, Cajun
Los Texmaniacs, Texas Mexican conjunto (tribute to Flaco Jiménez)
Daniel Sheehy, folklorist and ethnomusicologist
June 30
The Chuck Brown Band, D.C. go-go (tribute to Chuck Brown)
This dance party is co-presented with the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in celebration of its fiftieth anniversary.
July 1
Juan Gutiérrez with Los Pleneros de la 21, Puerto Rican bomba and plena
This concert and dance party is presented by the Smithsonian Latino Center in celebration of its twentieth anniversary. The program received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
July 6 
Mick Moloney and Billy McComiskey, Irish music and dance from the Mid-Atlantic region
July 8
Artemio Posadas, Huastecan son
This dance party received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Festival Marketplace

July 1–2
Verónica Castillo, Mexican American ceramicist, with Alfonsina Salas and Norma Cantú
Irvin Trujillo, Hispanic weaver, with Lisa Trujillo
These presentations received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center

Circus Arts

June 29–July 9 
Dolly Jacobs, aerialist

On the Move

June 29–July 3
PJ and Roy Hirabayashi, Japanese American taiko drumming pioneers
June 29–July 1
Sheila Kay Adams, ballad singer, storyteller, musician
July 1–2
Mestre João “Grande” Oliveira dos Santos, Brazilian capoeira master
July 1-2
Mestre Jelon Vieira, Brazilian capoeira master
The Brazilian capoeira presentations received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center
July 3–4
Ledward Kaapana, Hawaiian slack-key guitar
July 6–7
San Francisco Kulintang Legacy, Filipino American percussion (tribute to Danongan Kalanduyan)

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

July 7 and 9
Yary Livan, Cambodian ceramicist

Reunion Weekend

July 8
Roland Freeman, photographer, documentarian
July 9
Norman Kennedy, Scottish weaver, singer, storyteller

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