The NEA originated this program in 1982 to pay tribute to those artists who have enhanced this American art form with originality, spirit and the desire to educate. This year's honorees are no exception.
Sheila Jordan (pictured above), born in Detroit, Michigan and raised by her grandparents in Pennsylvania, became exposed to jazz when she returned to the Motor City during the early years of World War II. She met numerous jazz musicians and, by the end of the decade, was singing in a vocal trio. Moving to New York City in 1952, it was 10 years before she made her recording debut on composer/arranger George Russell's "The Outer View." Within in few months, she released her first Lp under her own name on the Blue Note label, "Portrait of Sheila." Over the next decade-and-a-half, she spent much of her time raising her daughter yet found time to perform in clubs and churches as well as working with trombonist Roswell Rudd. In the late 1970s, she began working, recording and touring with pianist Steve Kuhn - their 2 recordings for ECM helped to bring Ms. Jordan to a wider audience. She also displayed an affinity for performing in duos with bassists. She's recorded with Arild Andersen, Steve Swallow, Cameron Brown (a collaboration that continues to the present day) and Harvie S. Later this month, HighNote Records will issue "Yesterdays", a recording of a 1990 concert with Harvie S. Sheila Jordan still tours and teaches workshops around the world. Find out more by going to www.sheilajordanjazz.com/.
www.jackdejohnette.com. For an excellent interview, go to thejazzsession.com/2012/01/09/the-jazz-session-336-jack-dejohnette/ and listen to his chat with Jason Crane.
If you want more information about the NEA, its Jazz Initiatives and the Jazz Masters Program, go to arts.gov/national/jazz/index.html.