The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) just announced the 2006 recipients of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships. Doyle Lawson has been named one of this years recipients. Lawson will travel to Washington, DC for a September 13th banquet honoring Fellowship recipients, a September 14th presentation ceremony, and an appearance with his band at a September 15th recipient concert.
Lawson joins the list of great bluegrass artists who have received Fellowships, including: Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley and Jerry Douglas.
When I spoke briefly with Doyle via email I asked him what he felt on being honored in this way. His response:
I am truly awed and honored with the news that I’ll be receiving this award. Music has been a great part of my life as long as I can remember. I thank God for his bountiful blessings.
Here are some more comments Doyle made that were sent to us in a press release.
For Lawson, the news, delivered via phone by Barry Bergey, the NEA”s Director of Folk and Traditional Arts, came both as an honor and a surprise. “My wife, Suzanne, and I were out in California on vacation,” he recalls. “She knew all about this, but I didn’t have a clue. I had just stepped out of the shower when we got the call, so I told her, “get a number and I’ll call them back.” Then, when I looked at the message, I saw Barry’s name, and I said, “I know this guy.” He had an official, behind-the-scenes role in the first tour I did for the National Council for the Traditional Arts some years ago. So I called him, and we caught up on old times, and then he said, “the reason I’m calling is that you’ve been selected as one of the recipients of the National Heritage award.” I knew what it was, of course, and it just floored me. Honestly, it still hasn’t really dug into me.”
“I didn’t have a blueprint of where I was going when I started out. I played music – and I still play music – first and foremost because I love the music. That has always been first; everything else has come second. I followed my heart, and went where it took me. And by doing that, I guess I introduced some music to people who otherwise had not or maybe would not have been introduced to it, particularly in the gospel music I’ve done. And I feel sure that in being chosen as one of the recipients . . . that must have been a part of what swayed them to consider me.”
“This is by far the highest honor that I’ve ever had bestowed on me, and I don’t think there are adequate words to express my true feelings.”