Rhiannon Giddens and Tyshawn Sorey Win MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grants"
Wed, 11 Oct 2017 10:59:07
The MacArthur Foundation announced musicians Rhiannon Giddens and Tyshawn Sorey as two of this year's winners of the $625,000 so-called "Genius Grants" or Fellows Program. Giddens is the vocalist, violinist, and banjo player for the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a Grammy-winning country and blues band, and she's also released two solo albums, 2015's Tomorrow Is My Turn and this year's Freedom Highway. Sorey is a multifaceted composer and performer who doesn't let specialization hinder his work, though he is best known for playing drums, trombone, and piano.
In the announcement, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recognized Giddens for "reclaiming African American contributions to folk and country music and bringing to light new connections between music from the past and the present" while Sorey is praised for his role in "transforming ideas from a broad spectrum of traditional and experimental idioms into musical creations that celebrate alternative musical modeling within the improvisation-composition continuum."
The Macarthur Foundation Fellows Program selects 24 creative individuals every year from a pool of nominees, and each winner receives a no-strings-attached grant that is paid out in quarterly installments over a five year period. The intention of the financial benefit is to "enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society." The MacArthur Foundation website lists three criteria that direct the selection of Fellows:
1. Exceptional creativity
2. Promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments
3. Potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.
Cecilia Conrad, Managing Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, described the work of all of this year's Fellows, "From transforming conditions for low-wage workers to identifying internet security vulnerabilities, from celebrating the African American string band tradition to designing resilient urban habitats, these new MacArthur Fellows bring their exceptional creativity to diverse people, places, and social challenges. Their work gives us reason for optimism and inspires us all."
—The ARTISTdirect Staff