In 1982 the National Endowment for the Arts established the NEA National Heritage Awards as a way of honoring American folk artists for their contributions to our national cultural mosaic. Modelled after the Japanese “National Living Treasures” concept, the idea began with Bess Lomax Hawes, then director of the Folk Arts Program. Since its inception, over 300 artists have received the Heritage Award. These one-time-only National Heritage Fellowships for master folk and traditional artists. are intended to recognize the recipients’ artistic excellence and support their continuing contributions to our nation’s traditional arts heritage.
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.
The following Hawaiian musicians & hula masters have been recognized as National Heritage Fellows. The photographs below are those posted on the NEA’s website, which appear there along with artist profiles. The gateway page to artist profiles is at http://www.nea.gov/honors/heritage/index.html. Click on the artist names below to read their profiles on the NEA website.
1984: Emily Kau‘i Zuttermeister. Kane‘ohe, Hawai‘i. Hula Master
1987: Raymond Kane. Wai‘anae, Hawai‘i. Hawaiian Slack Key Guitarist / Singer.
1988: Clyde “Kindy ” Sproat. Kapa‘au, Hawai‘i.. Hawaiian Cowboy Singer / Ukulele.
1993: Nalani Kanakaole & Pualani Kanakaole Kanahele. Hilo Hawai‘i. Hula Masters.
1996: Solomon & Richard Ho‘opi‘i. Pukalani and Wailuku, Hawai‘i. Hawaiian Singers
2000: Genoa Keawe. Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Native Hawaiian Singer / Ukulele Player.
2005: James Ka‘upena Wong. Wai‘anae, Hawai‘i. Hawaiian chanter.
2006: George Na‘ope. Hilo, Hawai‘i. Kumu Hula (Hula Master)
2007: Eddie Kamae. Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Hawaiian musician, composer, filmmaker.