The General Assembly is to honor five recipients with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, presented annually to recognize work that keeps the state’s traditional art forms alive.
Four artists and one advocate are to be recognized as practitioners and advocates of traditional arts significant to communities throughout the state. Their traditions embody folklife’s dynamic, multi generational nature, and its fusion of artistic and utilitarian ideals. The 2019 recipients are:
- John Andrew (Andy) Brooks (Liberty): Old-Time Music
- Dorothy Brown Glover (Lincolnville): Quilting
- Julian A. Prosser (Columbia): Bluegrass Music
- Voices of Gullah Singers (St. Helena Island): Gullah Singing
- Dale Rosengarten, Ph.D. (Charleston): Advocacy, African-American Lowcountry Basketry & Southern Jewish Heritage
The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award is named for the late State Rep. Jean Laney Harris of Cheraw, respected as an outspoken advocate and ardent supporter of the arts and cultural resources of the state. Up to four artists or organizations and one advocate may receive awards each year. The program is managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC. Community members make nominations to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House selects the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state.
“The work of proliferating our state’s unique cultural heritage is an important one in an age of constant change,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May said. “The intrinsic value of these treasured art forms is the story each tells of where and who we’ve been, and are, as a culture. We should all be grateful for the work these award recipients do on our behalf.”
The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award and Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards are to be presented at the South Carolina Arts Awards sponsored by Colonial Life on Wednesday, May 1 in a morning ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients afterward during a fundraising luncheon where South Carolina artists’ work will be on sale, all to support the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase through SouthCarolinaArts.com or by calling 803.734.8696.
McKissick Museum will host a mixer to celebrate this year’s Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipients on Tuesday, April 30 from 6-8 p.m., at the Blue Moon Ballroom in West Columbia (554 Meeting St, West Columbia). Admission is free with a McKissick membership, or $5 for non-members. RSVP or purchase your ticket by going here.
For more information, or to RSVP, or purchase a ticket over the phone: 803.777.2876. Guests are encouraged to buy/reserve their tickets by Friday, April 26. Only a limited number of tickets will be available at the door on the evening of the event, and admission will be on a first-come, first served basis.
ABOUT THE FOLK HERITAGE AWARD RECIPIENTS
- John Andrew (Andy) Brooks (Artist Category, Old-Time Music) first plucked the strings of a banjo when he was 4 years old. Since, he’s picked up guitar and fiddle and gone so far as to win the 2016 S.C. Fiddle Championship while placing second in banjo that year. His passion for traditional Southern music has resulted in a collection of hundreds of tunes he knows and plays by heart. An avid educator, Brooks has taught for the Young Appalachian Musicians After School Program and the Oconee Heritage Center, and this summer will teach Appalachian banjo at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Brooks plays for dances and hosts jams where musicians of different skill levels and repertoires share and learn from one another. In 2016, he co-founded the Old Keowee Contra Dance to benefit the Oconee Heritage Center’s music program. Brooks’ art form, old-time music, blends historic influences from Africa and the British Isles and features sacred and secular songs. Brooks, who calls Liberty, S.C. home, considers old-time music a community-based tradition, in which everyone contributes to the music, through dancing, playing or singing.
- Dorothy Brown Glover (Artist Category, Quilting) is well-known for her distinctive use of traditional quilt design elements and patterns from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in 1925, Glover creates exquisite quilt tops incorporating improvisational design methods that were popular among quilters whose social and economic status did not allow for the purchase of store-bought fabric for use in quilt making. Glover gracefully transforms thoughts and visions onto fabric and encourages other quilters, regardless of skill level, to experiment with patterns, colors, and designs. She generously shares her knowledge with all who want to learn and makes herself available to younger artists who seek out her experience and guidance. Glover lives in Lincolnville, S.C.
- Julian A. Prosser (Artist Category, Bluegrass Music) loved the sound of music played by his grandfather and uncles, growing up on the family farm. When he was 11, Prosser earned the money to buy his first guitar and was soon also playing banjo and guitar. By 1938, Prosser and some friends put together The Carolina Hillbillies, but it never reformed after World War II claimed several of the band. Prosser later took up bluegrass again, and in 1978 he, his son, and some friends formed The Carolina Rebels bluegrass band, and they’ve been playing ever since. Prosser has mentored many younger local musicians, including three fellow Jean Laney Harris Award recipients. Prosser remains a passionate advocate for bluegrass music and is recognized as both a pioneer and master of his craft by many local bluegrass performers. Now 93, he continues to be a driving force to keep local bluegrass alive and well in the Palmetto State. Prosser lives in Columbia, S.C.
- Voices of Gullah Singers (Artist Category, Gullah Singing) is made up of Gracie “Minnie” Gadson, Rosa Mae Chisholm Murray, and Deacon Joseph Murray. Each singer has a long and distinguished performing career, with deep roots in the praise house tradition. As a trio over the past 5 years, Voices of Gullah have performed at many events including Penn Center’s annual Heritage Days, The Original Gullah Festival, and local praise house services. Recently, the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina presented the trio to seven schools in Beaufort and Jasper counties as part of their program, Reach: A Gullah Musical Journey. The singers truly enjoy singing for students and teaching the next generation their rich legacy of Gullah-Geechee spirituals. The Voices of Gullah Singers are based in St. Helena Island, S.C.
- Dale Rosengarten, Ph.D. (Advocacy Category, African-American Lowcountry Basketry & Southern Jewish Heritage) has been researching the sweetgrass basketry tradition for over 30 years. Her fieldwork with basket makers and archival research on the tradition’s evolution have culminated in landmark projects like McKissick Museum’s 1986 exhibit, Row upon Row, Sea Grass Baskets of the South Carolina Lowcountry and Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Tradition (2008), both of which toured nationally. Rosengarten coordinated a 1988 conference in Charleston which resulted in agreements between basketmakers and elected officials on land concerns and the importance of the tradition. She has authored numerous publications on Lowcountry baskets and their history. Her knowledge and connections to basketmakers have been essential to numerous cultural institutions, including the Smithsonian, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Underground Railroad History Museum. In 1995, Rosengarten was hired as a historian and curator at the College of Charleston Addlestone Library in recognition of her work on South Carolina and Southern Jewish traditional life. She has dedicated her professional and personal life to advocating for the ways traditional arts link us to a shared human experience greater than our singular activities, thereby enriching contemporary society. Rosengarten lives in Charleston, S.C.