Two jazz musicians win $50,000 United States Artists grants

Jazz musicians Hannibal Lokumbe and Lionel Loueke were among a group of 50 artists to receive a $50,000 unrestricted grant for artistic excellence, awarded by the advocacy organization United States Artists (USA). The artists were awarded the grant Monday night in a ceremony at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, Calif.

Lionel Loueke
By Jimmy Katz
Hannibal Lokumbe

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The fellowship grants were given to artists in the areas of architecture and design, crafts and traditional arts, dance, literature, media, music, theater arts and visual arts. The USA fellowship program has been handing out grants since 2006.

Lokumbe is a composer and jazz trumpeter from Bastrop, Texas, with a career spanning over 40 years. He was named the USA Cummings Fellow for 2009. Lokumbe has played trumpet and recorded with jazz greats such as Gil Evans, Pharoah Sanders and Elvin Jones. Lokumbe has composed over 150 works, many of which have been performed by the Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit and Houston symphonies.

Lionel Loueke, a young jazz newcomer born in West Africa, was named the USA Prudential Fellow for 2009. An acclaimed jazz guitarist and vocalist, Loueke is known for his distinctive style which combines traditional African sounds with modern influences. Loueke has studied at the National Institute of Art on the Ivory Coast and the American School of Modern Music in Paris. He has a degree from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and attended the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of Southern California.

Other recipients outside the discipline of music include poet and novelist Sapphire, whose only novel, Push, was made into a recent film titled Precious; New York-based actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith; and the founder of Project Row Houses in Houston’s Third Ward, artist Rick Lowe.

USA is an organization dedicated to giving direct financial support to artists who often have limited access to government assistance and private donors, and may at times have trouble making ends meet. The fellowships are intended for use by the artists to develop new work or complete an ongoing project, give back to their own community, and to fund basic living expenses. USA gives fellowships to adult artists of all ages and at all stages of their career.

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