WASHINGTON, D.C. • Cedric Burnside, an Ashland resident who is carrying on the legacy of North Mississippi Hill Country blues, has been selected as a recipient of the 2021 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship.
The Heritage Fellowship is nation’s highest honor in the folk and tradition arts. An award of $25,000 will be presented to each of the nine recipients, who will be featured in a film that will debut on Nov. 17, 2021 on arts.gov.
A blues guitarist, drummer, singer and songwriter, Burnside “tells the story of the Black American experience from the heart of the North Mississippi Hill Country,” according to the NEA. “Spanning three decades, Burnside’s work holds the legacy and future of North Mississippi’s sound stories, telling ancestral blues stories and honor the region’s heritage and ensure its future.”
Burnside comes from a family deeply entrenched in the Hill Country sound. He’s the son of blues drummer Calvin Jackson and grandson of legendary guitarist R.L. Burnside.
A four-time Blues Music Award winner, Burnside also earned Grammy nominations for the 2015 album project “Descendants of Hill Country” and his 2018 solo album, “Benton County Relic.” His latest studio album, “I Be Trying,” will be released June 25.
Burnside will join other members of his musical family and fellow blues artists June 25-26 at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic festival in the Marshall County town of Waterford.
The remaining NEA National Heritage Fellows are:
• Tagumpay De Leon, Rondalla musician from Burbank, California.
• Anita Fields (Osage), Osage ribbon worker from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
• Los Lobos, Mexican-American band from Los Angeles.
• Joanie Madden, Irish flute player from Yonkers, New York.
• Reginald “Reggio The Hoofer” McLaughlin, tap dancer from Chicago.
• Nellie Vera Sánchez, mundillo master weaver from Moca, Puerto Rico.
• Winnsboro Easter Rock Ensemble from Winnsboro, Louisiana.
• Tom Davenport, filmmaker, documentarian and media curator from Delaplane, Virginia.
“The diverse art forms of the National Heritage Fellows allow us to experience and appreciate the rich cultural traditions that make up America,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts. “It is inspiring how these artistic practices continue the legacy of generations past, while blending contemporary elements as they continue into the future.”
Fellowship recipients are nominated by the public, often by members of their own communities, and then judged by a panel of experts in the folk and traditional arts. The panel’s recommendations are reviewed by the National Council on the Arts, which sends its recommendations to the Arts Endowment chairman, who makes the final decision.
The deadline to submit a nomination for the 2022 class of National Heritage Fellows is July 30, 2021. Visit the National Endowment for the Arts website for more information and to submit a nomination.