National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2023 NEA National Heritage Fellows Including Music Legend Little Joe

The Tejano music legend was recognized for his dedication and contribution to the arts

R.L. Boyce Photo credit Rustin Gudim; Ed Eugene Carriere Photo by Dale Croes; Michael A. Cummings Photo courtesy of the artist; Joe DeLeon “Little Joe” Hernández Photo by Mark Del Castillo; Roen Hufford Photo credit Lynn Martin Graton; Elizabeth James-Perry Photo courtesy of Elizabeth James-Perry; Wu Man Photo by David Bazemore; Nick Spitzer Photo by Rusty Constanza, courtesy of Tulane University; Luis Tapia Photo Courtesy of Luis Tapia 

Washington, DC—The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announces this year’s NEA National Heritage Fellows, recipients of our nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. For more than 40 years, the NEA has annually presented these lifetime honors in recognition of the diverse cultural traditions that comprise our nation and the individuals whose dedication and artistry contribute to their preservation and growth.


“The 2023 National Heritage Fellows exemplify what it means to live an artful life,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, Ph.D. “Their rich and diverse art forms connect us to the past, strengthen our communities today, and give hope to future generations in ways that only the arts can. Our nation is strengthened through their meaningful practices, expressions, and preservation of traditional artistry.”  

The 2023 NEA National Heritage Fellows feature music legend Little Joe, who helped pioneer Tejano music, becoming one of the most prominent figures in the tradition today with more than 70 albums and five Grammy Awards, with his band, Little Joe y La Familia.

Little Joe commented, “Thank you National Endowment for the Arts for this honor of receiving a 2023 National Heritage Fellowship. I will continue to do what I do in music for all and for the community!”

Other NEA National Heritage Fellows include Blues musician R.L. Boyce, Suquamish basketmaker Ed Eugene Carriere, African American quilter Michael A. Cummings, Kapa maker Roen Hufford, Wampum and fiber artist Elizabeth James-Perry, Santero (saint-maker) Luis Tapia, Pipa player Wu Man, and folklife presenter, educator, and radio producer Nick Spitzer.

Each fellowship includes a $25,000 award. Details will be released in the future about an event to honor the 2023 fellows.

About the National Heritage Fellowships
The National Heritage Fellowships are the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Including the 2023 class, the Arts Endowment has been awarded 477 National Heritage Fellowships since 1982, recognizing artists working in more than 200 distinct art forms. More information about the National Heritage Fellows is available on the Arts Endowment’s website

Fellowship recipients are nominated by the public, often by members of their own communities, and then judged by a panel of experts in the folk and traditional arts. The panel’s recommendations are reviewed by the National Council on the Arts, which sends its recommendations to the chair of the NEA, who makes the final decision. Visit the National Endowment for the Arts website for more information.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support give Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

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