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A jazz-funk-free writer/guitarist gets U.S. Artist grant

Congrats to Brother Tate

Dec 9th, 2010 | By

Greg Tate — author, cultural activist and guitarist/musical director of the celebratory free-funk band Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber — has been named a USA Ford Fellow by United States Artists, one of 50 artists in eight disciplines to receive $50,000 each, no strings attached.

Other jazz-and/music/improv related recipients this year  include pianist-composer Uri Caine, new music accordionist  Guy Klucevsek, innovative dobroist Rob Ickes and Puerto Rican  choreographer Awilda Sterling-Duprey.

Tate has written essays, reviews and interviews concerning  musicians including Miles Davis, Sun Ra, George Clinton and  Jimi Hendrix for such publications as the Village Voice, Vibe  and Down Beat; he is the author of Flyboy in the Buttermilk and Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black  Experience, a contributor  to  The Future of Jazz (edited by Yuval  Taylor) and editor of Everything But the Burden: What White  People Are Taking from Black Culture. A founder of the Black  Rock Coalition, Tate joined members of the JJA in performing John Zorn’s composition/game Cobra at the original Knitting Factory in the early 1990s, and has established Burnt Sugar as a internationally-touring attraction, with records including Making Love to the Dark Ages.

The United State Artists describes itself as a “grant-making, artist-advocacy organization,” which “launched in September 2005 with $22 million in seed funding provided by a coalition of leading foundations—Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential, and Rasmuson.” Its website’s “History” page continues:

“This initial investment enables our organization to pilot the USA Fellows program, awarding unrestricted $50,000 grants to fifty artists each year. Distributing significant grants to our nation’s best artists quickly, efficiently, and with minimal expense is our top priority.” Musical artists previously named USA Artists include Lionel Loueke, Cyro Batista, Rahim AlHaj and Daniel Plonsey (2009); Muhal Richard Abrams, Joy Harjo, Henry Threadgill, Stephen Scott, Chris Jonas and Wu Man (2008); Don Byron, Michael Doucet, Jason Moran, John Santos and Evan Ziporyn (2007); Bill Frisell and Ali Akbar Khan (2006). In 2008, writer Jeff Chang was named in the literature category in part for his book Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation.

Artists receiving USA Fellowships are nomined are made by different anonymous groups each year of arts leaders, critics, scholars, and artists chosen by USA. Nominators do not know one another; their identities remain confidential.Nominators are asked to submit names of artists they believe show an extraordinary commitment to their craft. Artists at any stage of career development may be nominated. Artists must have:

  • Expert artistic skills
  • Artistic education or training (formal or informal)
  • A history of deriving income from those skills
  • A history of active engagement in creating artwork and presenting it to the public

Greg Tate obviously fulfills these requirements, and then some. Congratulations to our colleague.

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