NEW YORK (July 25, 2017) — The National Endowment for the Arts has selected JoAnne Brackeen as a winner of its distinguished Jazz Masters Award for 2018.
The NEA Award will be presented at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, April 18, 2018, at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall in Washington, D.C. Her fellow honorees, guitarist/composer/educator Pat Metheny, vocalist Dianne Reeves and club owner/producer/artistic programmer Todd Barkan, will join her at the ceremony, which will be streamed live and open to the public.
“It’s awesome to have received this honor, this title for being and doing what I love most,” Brackeen said. “I am so thankful. My goal is to continue and share my joy, concepts and spirit through my music with as many people as possible.”
“The NEA Jazz Masters represent the very pinnacle of talent, creativity, innovation and vision,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “We look forward to celebrating these four new Jazz Masters and their many contributions to jazz.”
“JoAnne Brackeen is a role model both as a consummate jazz performer and devoted educator,” said Bonnie Barrett, director, Yamaha Artist Services New York. “For many years, her consummate musicianship has inspired countless aspiring musicians, as well as imaginative collaborations with many of today’s greatest jazz players. JoAnne is well-deserving of this prestigious honor and the accolades for a distinguished and impressive career.”
Brackeen, a Yamaha Artist, is one of America’s outstanding jazz pianists, composers and educators. She has achieved many milestones in a career that stretches back to the 1950s, beginning with her history-making run as the only female musician ever to play with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Referencing Brackeen’s more than 300 often adventurous, multi-genre compositions, jazz icon Marian McPartland noted that “Brackeen, like Picasso, broke convention and she always likely will.”
In addition to dozens of albums released under her own name, Brackeen has collaborated on projects with bassists Eddie Gomez and Charlie Hayden, saxophonists Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Dave Liebman and Charles Lloyd, trumpeters Terence Blanchard, Art Farmer, Bill Hardman and Freddie Hubbard, and drummers Jack DeJohnette, Billy Hart and Roy Haynes.
Among her previous distinctions are the Berklee Award for Outstanding Achievement in Education, the Berklee Distinguished Faculty Award, the IAJE’s Outstanding Educator Award, the IJW (International Women In Jazz) Living Legend Award and the BNY Mellon Jazz 2014 Living Legacy Award.
Later this year, Brackeen will appear with bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Nate Smith on July 24 at Bushnell Park in Hartford, Conn.; their performance will broadcast live over WWUH radio. She will deliver a solo piano set on Aug. 5 at the Newport Jazz Festival and return to trio format with Okegwo and drummer Rudy Royston on Sept. 16 at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
More tours are on the books for 2018, to mark and celebrate Brackeen’s 80th birthday.