National Endowment For The Arts Announces the 2004 Recipients of the Nation\’s Highest Honor in the Folk and Traditional Arts

Washington, D.C., USA – The National Endowment for the Arts
today announced the 2004 recipients of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships,
the country’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Ten fellowships,
which include a one-time award of $20,000 each, are presented to honorees from
ten states. Twelve awardees were chosen for their artistic excellence, cultural
authenticity, and contributions to their field. Two of the fellowships will be
shared by husband and wife teams.

Chum Ngek will receive the Bess Lomax Hawes award for service to the folk and
traditional arts field as a whole in acknowledgement of his long history of
teaching Cambodian music and culture. National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia said, “The work of these
awardees is a testament to the diversity and exceptional quality of America’s
artistic resources. The cultures and artistic forms represented here speak to
traditions, both ancient and contemporary and to artistic achievements that are

In its 23rd year, the NEA National Heritage Fellowship program features many
first-time awards this year including honoring a female blues singer, Kathak
dancer, Irish-American button accordionist, and gospel steel guitarist.

2004 NEA National Heritage Fellowship Recipients:

Anjani Ambegaokar, North Indian Kathak dancer (Diamond Bar, CA)
Charles “Chuck” T. Campbell, gospel steel guitar player (Rochester, NY)
Joe Derrane, Irish-American button accordionist (Randolph, MA)
Jerry Douglas, Dobro player (Nashville, TN)
Gerald “Subiyay” Miller, Skokomish oral tradition bearer, carver, basket maker
(Shelton, WA)
Milan Opacich, Tamburitza instrument maker (Shererville, IN)
Eliseo and Paula Rodriguez, straw appliqué artists (Santa Fe, NM)
Koko Taylor, Blues musician (Country Club Hills, IL)
Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu, Chinese rod puppeteers (Aloha, OR)

2004 Bess Lomax Hawes Award:

Chum Ngek, Cambodian musician and teacher (Gaithersburg, MD)

These honorees join the ranks of previous Heritage Fellows,
including bluesman B.B. King, Irish stepdancer Michael Flatley, cowboy poet
Wally McRae and acclaimed performers Shirley Caesar, Doc Watson, and Bill
Monroe. Since 1982, the Endowment has awarded more than 282 National Heritage
Fellowships. Recipients are nominated, often by members of their own
communities, and then judged by a panel on the basis of their continuing
artistic accomplishments and contributions as practitioners or teachers. Fellows
must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or U.S. territory.

The 2004 awardees will travel to Washington D.C. in September for a series of
events including an awards presentation on Capitol Hill and a concert at Lisner
Auditorium at George Washington University on Friday, October 1. Cracker Barrel
Old Country Store of Lebanon, Tennessee, will underwrite the costs of the
ceremony and related activities.

[Photos: 1 – Jerry Douglas, 2 – Anjani Ambegaokar, 3- Chum Ngek. All photos
courtesy of National Endowment for the Arts].