Musicians, dancers and composers win this year’s Kresge Artist Grants

The founder of the National Arab Orchestra, a popular Detroit rapper, several jazz artists and a dancer considered the “Queen of Detroit Jit” are among this year’s recipients of Kresge Artist Fellowships.

A total of 20 artists, announced Thursday morning, have been awarded scholarships and given $25,000 each to use as they see fit. Ten winners of the Gilda Emerging Artist Awards were also named, who will each receive $5,000. A total of 31 artists from Metro Detroit received awards this year, totaling $550,000.

“The big reveal of one-year Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Award winners has become something of a Metro Detroit summer rite,” said Kresge Chairman and CEO Rip Rapson. “Many of us find confirmation from artists on our radar screen – and more importantly we are introduced to many new artists who are making their mark on the city’s vibrant arts and culture scenes. These are 31 artists we can look forward to seeing, hearing and experiencing in the months and years to come through this program that supports and uplifts individual artists.”

This year, the winners of the Kresge Artist Fellowship and the Gilda Emerging Artist Award were divided into two main categories: Live Arts and Film & Music. Separate juries determined the winners in each category.

Since 2008, Kresge Arts in Detroit has awarded more than $7.36 million to artists in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties through its Kresge Eminent Artist Awards, Kresge Artist Fellowships, and 42 Gilda Awards.

The featured artist for this year’s Kresge, announced in January, is Olayami Dabls, a Detroit artist and muralist best known as the founder of the MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit. He received $50,000.

Kresge Artist Fellowships are awarded based on several factors, including a demonstrated track record of artistic achievement and high-quality work. Other factors include the potential for growth and advancement in one’s artistic career and the potential to reflect, enhance, or impact Metro Detroit communities.

The recipients of this year’s Kresge Artist Grant for the Living Arts are Marc Brewer, dance; Deidre DSSENSE Smith, performance art; Hadassah GreenSky, interdisciplinary work; Queen Gabby, a dancer considered the queen of Detroit Jit, for dancing and choreography; and *Thank You So Much For Coming, interdisciplinary work.

Winners for Film & Music include: Black Milk, a well-known rapper from Detroit, for music composition and performance; Leith Campbell, sound art; Ali Allan Colding, musical performances; DAAY, interdisciplinary work; Demario Dotson, interdisciplinary work; Carl George, filmmaking; Akhnek Kenneth Green, sound art; Michael Ibrahim, the founder of the Arab National Orchestra, for musical composition and interpretation; De’Sean Jones, music composition and performance; KESSWA, interdisciplinary work; Tammy Lakkis, musical composition and performance; Theo Parrish, musical composition and performance; Jaribu Shahid, musical composition and performance; Summer Like The Season, musical composition and interpretation; and Kaleigh Wilder, musical performance.

“Detroit’s powerful pool of creators this year reflects dynamic innovation, historical memory and the importance of creating transformative spiritual experiences,” said Piper Carter, image maker and cultural curator who was one of the panelists. Film & Music this year. “With a commitment to community, the Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards represent an appreciation for advancing the craft of artistry and the helpful ideas needed in and for our world at this time.”

The winners of this year’s Gilda Emerging Artist Awards, meanwhile, are given to artists who are earlier in their careers, gaining momentum and “demonstrating exceptional potential by taking creative risks and pushing back against limits of their chosen art form,” according to Kresge. The awards are named after the late Gilda Snowden, a renowned Detroit artist who died in 2014.

This year, the winners of the Gilda Emerging Artist Awards are Anetria Cole, playwright; Joel Fluent Greene, performance art; Trishawna, dance; Natasha Beste, interdisciplinary work; Jeremy Brockman, director; Detroit Bureau of Sound, music composition and performance; Gary Jay, director; Razi Jafri, filmmaking; and Jhayla Mosley, director.

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