Arts Council Honors
Big Chief Howard Miller of the Creole Wild West is a Mardi Gras Indian Chief and educator who devoted the last 15 years to teaching young people about Mardi Gras Indian culture. Known as Big Chief Howard, he began masking Indian in 1969. He has established a Saturday class at A.L. Davis Park for young people interested in the tradition to learn the sewing skills necessary to join a tribe. Beyond teaching the skills required to make a suit, Big Chief Miller educates his group of 25-30 youths about the history and meaning of the culture, such as the spiritual dances and chants. He is recognized among his peers for his dedication, commitment, compassion, deep knowledge of his tradition, and his outstanding devotion to the youth of our community.
Jeanne Nathan has a long and impressive track record of contributions to the arts community in New Orleans. She is a tireless creator and organizer of cultural, economic development and neighborhood events, organizations, and large-scale initiatives in the city, including the Contemporary Arts Center and the WBOK show Crosstown Conversations, producer of the late night jazz festival Dew Drop Inn II. She integrated cultural initiatives into a thirty-five year career in broadcast journalism, marketing and public service for three mayors in New Orleans and New York City. Nathan is the Founder and Executive Director of the Creative Alliance of New Orleans, (CANO). Through CANO Jeanne Nathan campaigns for the cultivation and advancement of creative industries in the city as an avenue for economic revitalization.
An innovative residency pioneer, A Studio in the Woods, a program of Tulane University, has an established record of pairing land preservation with intimate artist residencies, connecting artists to the local community through creative discourse centered on environmental challenges. The exceptional hospitality of its founders, Lucianne and Joe Carmichael, was the beginning of an artist’s retreat for visual, literary and performing artists to work uninterrupted in a beautiful forest just minutes from downtown New Orleans. As one of the first artists’ communities in the deep South, ASITW provides time, space, and support for artists’ creative research and risk-taking in an environment rich in stimulation and fellowship.
Having just recently celebrated their 75th Anniversary, New Orleans’ own Zion Harmonizers is one of the region’s oldest gospel vocal groups. These living legends repeatedly won every gospel award in the city and have performed all over the world to enthusiastic audiences. Benjamin Maxon organized the Zion Harmonizers in 1939 in the New Orleans neighborhood known as “New Zion.” Maxon’s aunt was Alberta French Johnson, who led the renowned all-women’s gospel group, the Southern Harps. She trained her young nephew and his friends, Sherman Washington and Nolan Washington in the style of the traditional gospel quartet, an art form that they still practice today. They still rely heavily on the old-time a cappella style, using four-part harmonies to get their message across.
The Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane is the leading research center for the study of New Orleans jazz and related musical genres, including New Orleans ragtime, gospel, blues, rhythm and blues, and Creole songs. Among its holdings are 2,000 reels of oral history interviews with musicians, family members, and observers that document the stories surrounding the emergence of jazz in New Orleans from the late 19th century and beyond. Other holdings include sound recordings, film, photography, sheet music, personal papers and records of the American Federation of Musicians Local 174-496, ephemera, and realia. Originally established in 1958 as the Archive of New Orleans Jazz under a subvention from the Ford Foundation, the William Ransom Hogan Archive of New Orleans Jazz at Tulane University was renamed in honor of Professor Hogan, the primary investigator, in 1974.
Founded in 1884, Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association is the oldest Benevolent Association in Louisiana. Originally, mutual aid societies were established to provide a type of insurance through dues and fundraising activities to assist those in the black community with health care and funeral expenses. The colorful brass band parades and Jazz Funerals were a form of advertising to promote membership in the organizations. Its mission is “To promote and cultivate morality, and to practice charity among its members and those who may come within the influences of the organization and its members; to care for the sick, alleviate the distress of the destitute members, to assist the dead, and to do other acts of charity and benevolence.” Acts of charity have included feeding the homeless, summer camps for youth, park sponsorships, and school supply give-always as well as community partnerships.