North Carolina Heritage Award

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The North Carolina Heritage Award is an annual award given out by the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, in recognition of traditional artists from the U.S. state of North Carolina. The award was created in 1989.[1]

Since 1989, the North Carolina Heritage Award has honored North Carolina's most eminent folk artists. Recipients of the Heritage Awards range from internationally acclaimed musicians to folks who quietly practice their art in rural and family settings. A dozen North Carolinians have gone on to receive the National Heritage Fellowship Awards presented by the National Endowment for the Arts. These awards deepen our awareness of the rich and diverse cultural traditions of people in North Carolina. The Heritage Award has become one of the most important and influential programs developed by the Folklife Program of the North Carolina Arts Council.

Recipients receive a cash award and are honored in a ceremony that highlights their achievements. The Award ceremonies are a notable celebration and educational event for North Carolinians, drawing large and enthusiastic audiences.

From the Award’s beginning, the Folklife Program of the North Carolina Arts Council engaged talented photographers — Rob Amberg, Cedric N. Chatterley, Mary Anne McDonald, Roger Haile and Bill Bamberger — to document the artistry of award recipients.[2] Their images and the program book articles celebrate and commemorate the skills, values, aesthetics, and meaning of traditional arts in North Carolina.

The Folk Heritage Award recipients from 1989–1996 are also featured in a special issue of the North Carolina Folklore Journal.





  • Effie Rhodes Bell, quilter
  • Lela Brooks, Tobacco twine crocheter
  • Burlon Craig, potter (Some biographical information is in the Catawba Valley Pottery article)
  • Menhaden Chanteymen, performers of worksongs [4]
  • Hazel Rhodes Reece, quilter
  • Quay Smathers[5]
  • Thurman Strickland, baksetmaker
  • Joe Thompson, fiddler
  • Odell Thompson, fiddler



  • Louise Anderson, storyteller [9]
  • Julian Guthrie, boatbuilder
  • Bea Hensley, blacksmith
  • George Higgs, blues musician
  • Mary Jane Queen, ballad singer
  • George SerVance Jr., woodcarver
  • Luke Smathers and Harold Smathers, stringband musicians



  • The Branchettes: Lenna Mae Perry and Ethel Elliot, gospel singers
  • Raymond Coins, stone and wood carver
  • Homer Fulcher, Julian Hamilton Jr., decoy carvers
  • Big Boy Henry, blues guitarist and singer [10]
  • Virgil Ledford, woodcarver
  • Jim Shumate, bluegrass fiddler
  • Ora Watson, fiddler


  • Robert H. Bushyhead, storyteller and language preservationist
  • Verlen Clifton and Paul Sutphin, stringband musicians and singers
  • Nell Cole Graves, potter
  • Elizabeth "Lee" Graham Jacobs, quilter [11]
  • Dock Rmah, Jarai traditional musician
  • Earl Scruggs, banjo player


  • Bessie Killens Eldreth, singer
  • Louise Bigmeet Maney, potter
  • Smith McInnis, Fiddler
  • Ossie Clark Phillips, weaver
  • Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith, country musician
  • Arliss Watford, woodcarver
  • The Wilson Brothers, gospel singers



  • The Briarhoppers, bluegrass musicians
  • Celia Cole Perkinson and Neolia Cole Womack, potters
  • Emmet Parker Jones, wheelwright
  • Bishop Dready Manning, gospel musician
  • Oscar "Red" Wilson, stringband musician
  • Jerry Wolfe, stickball carver




  • William E. Meyers, jazz saxophonist and educator [13]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "North Carolina Heritage Award | North Carolina Arts Council". Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  2. ^ "May 1 Deadline for NC Heritage Award Nominations". 2013-02-24. Retrieved 2018-01-16.
  3. ^ "Thomas Burt". NC Arts Council. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  4. ^ "Menhaden Chanteymen". NC Arts Council. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Quay Smathers". Mountain Grown Music. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  6. ^ "Obadiah Carter". NC Arts Council. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Bertie Dickens". NC Arts Council. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Emma Dupree". NC Arts Council. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Louise Anderson". NC Arts Council. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Richard "Big Boy" Henry". NC Arts Council. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Elizabeth "Lee" Graham Jacobs". NC Arts Council. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Faircloth Barnes". NC Arts Council. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  13. ^ "William E. Meyers". NC Arts Council. Retrieved 30 March 2014.

External links[edit]