Tag: Allen Toussaint

Professor, Playwright and Actress Anna Deavere Smith Awarded National Humanities Medal by President Obama

President Barack Obama presents a 2012 National Humanities Medal to American actress, playwright, and professor, Anna Deavere Smith during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on July 10, 2013 in Washington, DC. Smith is recognized for her portrayal of authentic American voices. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama presents a 2012 National Humanities Medal to American actress, playwright, and professor, Anna Deavere Smith during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on July 10, 2013 in Washington, DC. Smith is recognized for her portrayal of authentic American voices. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Describing them as teachers, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that two dozen recipients of national medals for contributions to the arts and humanities have created works that will last for American life.

At a White House ceremony, Obama awarded medals to 23 singers, dancers, poets, producers, playwrights, scholars and others, and one performing arts organization.  As applause and cheers rippled across the stately East Room, Obama joked that the audience was doing so “Because I’ve bought their books, I’ve seen their movies, I buy their records. So we’re major contributors here.”

Turning more serious, he praised the medal recipients for using their talents “To open up minds and nourish souls, and help us understand what it means to be human, and what it means to be an American.”  “We celebrate people like our honorees here today not just because of their talent, but because they create something new. They create a new space and that becomes a lasting contribution to American life,” Obama said.

Among those receiving a National Medal of Arts are Herb Alpert, of Malibu, Calif., the musician behind the Tijuana Brass phenomenon and co-founder of A&M records; filmmaker George Lucas, of San Anselmo, Calif., and the Washington Performing Arts Society, of Washington, D.C.

Recipients of the National Humanities Medal include author Joan Didion, sportswriter Frank Deford and Robert B. Silvers, editor and co-founder of The New York Review of Books. All three are from New York.

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New Orleans Jazz Fest to Feature Jill Scott, B.B. King and N.O. Native Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — If there’s a theme to this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, it may be living legends.  Headliners include B.B. King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Hall and Oates and Fleetwood Mac. There’s also a cast of modern-day hit makers such as The Black Keys, Maroon 5, Jill Scott, Kem, the Dave Matthews Band and New Orleans native Frank Ocean.

Over the next two weekends, fans of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be treated to traditional jazz as well as rock ‘n roll, Cajun, gospel, blues, hip-hop, funk and zydeco.  “The way the talent fell into place this year, it became a very special year for us,” festival producer Quint Davis said. “It’s Jazz Fest, but it’s also B.B. King, Willie Nelson. It’s Ben Harper. It’s Hall and Oates. We ended up with probably the greatest living proponent in each kind of music we feature here.”

In all, about 5,000 entertainers will play the festival on 12 stages. The first weekend is Friday through Sunday, and the following weekend starts Thursday, May 2, and lasts until Sunday, May 5.

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