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Andrew Cyrille and Cécile McLorin Salvant Win 2020 Doris Duke Artist Awards

The veteran drummer and lauded singer will each receive an unrestricted grant of $250,000

Cécile McLorin Salvant BRIC JazzFest
Cécile McLorin Salvant at the Newport Jazz Festival, August 4, 2019 (photo: Marek Lazarski)

This morning (Sept. 17) the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announced the eight winners of its annual Doris Duke Artist Awards, and two jazz musicians were among them: drummer Andrew Cyrille and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant.

Each Doris Duke Artist receives an award of $275,000. A total of $250,000 of the prize is completely unrestricted, and $25,000 is dedicated to encouraging retirement savings. Artists are selected by their peers through a secret nomination and judging process; the awards are meant to recognize current contributions, not lifetime achievement.

As has become customary in the age of COVID, the awards ceremony took place in a Zoom meeting. Cyrille called the recognition “an unanticipated surprise” and the grant itself “the greatest I’ve received in my 60 years of playing professionally.

“It’s thrilling and humbling. After all these years, and being a drummer … well, I’m not even going to go into that,” he added with a chuckle.

In her acceptance speech, Salvant noted that “it’s hard not to view this [award] outside of its timing … but more importantly, this is an encouragement for me to continue making work that scares me.”


The other Doris Duke Artists this year are choreographers Ana Maria Alvarez, Sean Dorsey, Rennie Harris, and Pam Tanowitz; theatre director/playwright Michael John Garcés; and playwright Dael Orlandersmith.

With the 2020 class, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation will have awarded nearly $33.5 million to 122 noteworthy artists through the Doris Duke Artist Awards since May 2012.