From 1982 through 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has designated eighty-seven great figures in American music as NEA Jazz Masters, based on nominations submitted by the public. Newly named NEA Jazz Masters are honored at an awards ceremony and concert and are provided with a one-time fellowship of $25,000. Only living musicians or jazz advocates may be honored as NEA Jazz Masters.
To help these musicians make further connections with the American people, the Arts Endowment significantly expanded the program in 2004 and in 2005 established the NEA Jazz Masters Initiative, sponsored by Verizon. The initiative encompasses the award program itself; NEA Jazz Masters On Tour, which is creating performance opportunities in all 50 states for NEA Jazz Masters, coordinated by Arts Midwest and supported in part by Chamber Music America through a generous grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; NEA Jazz in the Schools, developed in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center; and radio and TV broadcast projects featuring NEA Jazz Masters, such as the PBS program Legends of Jazz: The Jazz Masters with host Ramsey Lewis and a 14-part series on National Public Radio's Jazz Profiles .
The Arts Endowment also has collaborated with the Verve Music Group on CD and digital compilations and has produced illustrated publications with profiles of all the NEA Jazz Masters.
For more information on NEA Jazz Masters, the public is invited to visit the web site, at www.neajazzmasters.org .
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