R.L. Boyce film premieres this week

Published 7:09 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2024

News Release
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) this week premiered a series of tribute films
celebrating the life and work of Hill Country blues musician R.L. Boyce of Como and the eight
other gifted individuals awarded the 2023 NEA National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s
highest honor in folk and traditional arts.
Beautifully crafted vignettes take viewers on a journey of discovery into the lives and
communities of these artists and provide a glimpse into the history of their art forms and how
each fellow contributes to the development and continuation of long-held traditions. Tribute films
are now available for viewing and sharing on the NEA’s YouTube channel and arts.gov/heritage.
In the Boyce film, viewers are invited to dance to the Hill Country blues of the late Boyce who
turned his boyhood dream of being a musician into a Grammy-nominated career spanning over
half a century. Hear how his uniquely contemporary style grew from seeds planted by family,
rooted in the African American fife and drum band tradition, and cultivated in Boyce’s tight-knit
North Mississippi community.
Fellowship recipients are nominated by the public, often by members of their own communities,
and then judged by a panel of experts in the folk and traditional arts. The panel’s
recommendations are reviewed by the National Council on the Arts, which sends its
recommendations to the NEA chair, who makes the final decision.
The National Heritage Fellowships are the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.
Since 1982, the NEA has awarded nearly 500 National Heritage Fellowships recognizing artists
working in more than 200 distinct art forms.
Each annual fellowship includes a $25,000 award.

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