The NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship is the highest honor that our nation bestows upon a jazz musician. Each year since 1982, the program has elevated to its ranks a select number of living legends who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz.
The Arts Endowment will honor musicians who represent a range of styles and instruments. In addition, one fellowship -- the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy -- will be given to an individual who has made major contributions to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the American jazz art form. In 2006, this award was designated in honor of A. B. Spellman, a jazz writer, accomplished poet, innovative arts administrator, and former NEA Deputy Chairman, who has dedicated much of his life to bringing the joy and artistry of jazz to all Americans.
The NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship category is not open to application. Fellowships are awarded to living individuals on the basis of nominations from the public including the jazz community. Nominees must demonstrate a significant contribution to the art form through their nationally recognized and publicly accessible body of work in the field of jazz. The recipients must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Posthumous nominations or awards will not be considered. Individuals who have previously received a NEA lifetime honor award (National Heritage Fellowship, Jazz Masters Fellowship, or an Opera Honor) are not eligible.
Awards will be up to $25,000 and may be received once in a lifetime. No payment will be made to the estate or heirs of a deceased recipient.
How to Submit a Nomination
Nominations must be submitted online using the online nomination form. Please see the description of a complete nomination package below.
Submitting Electronic Nomination Material
We encourage you to attach and submit your documents as PDF and Word files electronically.
The following two attachments are required to complete your nomination package. Each attachment file size limit is 1 MB.
Attachment 1: A one-page nomination letter that details the reasons that the nominee should receive a NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship. Describe the nominee’s contributions and explain why this individual deserves national recognition.
Attachment 2: A resume or a biography that outlines the career of the nominee. Not to exceed two pages.
Deadline for Nominations
Online nominations must be received by October 1, 2013. Fellowships will be announced in 2014.
An individual may submit one NEA Jazz Master Fellowship nominationper year. No one may nominate him/herself.
Review of Nominations
The selection criteria are the artistic excellence and significance of a nominee’s contributions to the development and performance of jazz.
Nominations are reviewed by an advisory panel of jazz experts and at least one knowledgeable layperson. Panel recommendations are forwarded to the National Council on the Arts, which then makes recommendations to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Chairman reviews the Council's recommendations and makes the final decision on all the award recipients.
Nominations remain active for a total of five years unless selected.
NEA Jazz Masters
1982: Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Sun Ra
1983: Count Basie, Kenneth Clarke, Sonny Rollins
1984: Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Max Roach
1985: Gil Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Jonathan "Jo" Jones
1986: Benny Carter, Dexter Gordon, Teddy Wilson
1987: Cleo Patra Brown, Melba Liston, Jay McShann
1988: Art Blakey, Lionel Hampton, Billy Taylor
1989: Barry Harris, Hank Jones, Sarah Vaughan
1990: George Russell, Cecil Taylor, Gerald Wilson
1991: Danny Barker, Buck Clayton, Andy Kirk, Clark Terry
1992: Betty Carter, Dorothy Donegan, Harry "Sweets" Edison
1993: Milt Hinton, Jon Hendricks, Joe Williams
1994: Louie Bellson, Ahmad Jamal, Carmen McRae
1995: Ray Brown, Roy Haynes, Horace Silver
1996: Tommy Flanagan, J.J. Johnson, Benny Golson
1997: Billy Higgins, Milt Jackson, Anita O'Day
1998: Ron Carter, James Moody, Wayne Shorter
1999: Dave Brubeck, Art Farmer, Joe Henderson
2000: David Baker, Donald Byrd, Marian McPartland
2001: John Lewis, Jackie McLean, Randy Weston
2002: Frank Foster, Percy Heath, McCoy Tyner
2003: Jimmy Heath, Elvin Jones, Abbey Lincoln
2004: Jim Hall, Chico Hamilton, Herbie Hancock
Luther Henderson, Nancy Wilson, Nat Hentoff
2005: Kenny Burrell, Paquito D'Rivera, Slide Hampton, Shirley Horn,
Artie Shaw, Jimmy Smith, George Wein
2006: Ray Barretto, Tony Bennett, Bob Brookmeyer, Chick Corea,
Buddy DeFranco, Freddie Hubbard, John Levy
2007: Toshiko Akiyoshi, Curtis Fuller, Ramsey Lewis, Dan Morgenstern,
Jimmy Scott, Frank Wess, Phil Woods
2008: Candido Camero, Andrew Hill, Quincy Jones, Tom McIntosh,
Gunther Schuller, Joe Wilder
2009: George Benson, Jimmy Cobb, Lee Konitz, Toots Thielemans,
Rudy Van Gelder, Snooky Young
2010: Muhal Richard Abrams, George Avakian, Kenny Barron, Bill Holman,
Bobby Hutcherson, Yusef Lateef, Annie Ross, Cedar Walton
2011: Orrin Keepnews, Hubert Laws, David Liebman, Johnny Mandel,
The Marsalis Family (Ellis Jr., Wynton, Delfeayo, Jason, Branford)
2012: Jack DeJohnette, Von Freeman, Charlie Haden, Sheila Jordan,
2013: Mose Allison, Lou Donaldson, Lorraine Gordon, Eddie Palmieri
2014: Jamey Aebersold, Anthony Braxton, Richard Davis, Keith Jarrett
Katja von Schuttenbach
202/682-5711 or firstname.lastname@example.org