Two artistic groups with Maryland connections – the Holmes Brothers and the Singing & Praying Bands of Maryland and Delaware — will be honored next month in Washington, DC, as 2014 National Heritage Fellows, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.
The Singing and Praying Bands of Maryland and Delaware practice a form of religious worship that encompasses one of the oldest and most historic African-American performance traditions that is still active today, predating gospel, blues, and jazz. Until the late 1950s, thousands took part in singing and praying bands at Methodist churches in Maryland and Delaware. Currently, due to a decrease in participants, on the Sunday when one church holds a meeting, all the current band members come together in that church and hold their service together as one ensemble. Participants come from churches all over the Baltimore area, as well as Annapolis and the Eastern Shore. More information about the Singing & Praying Bands can be found at arts.gov.
The Holmes Brothers are known for their distinct style of American music that blends blues, soul, gospel, traditional hymns, spirituals, country, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. They have released 11 albums over the course of their career, including the 2014 album Brotherhood with Alligator Records. Wendell Holmes currently resides in Rosedale, Maryland, and this summer he is participating in an apprenticeship with a young blues musician from Baltimore, Brooks Long, through the Maryland State Council on the Arts.
· Both groups will be honored at an awards ceremony with NEA Chairman Jane Chu and members of Congress on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 5 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Location: Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson Building, Room 119, 10 First Street SE in Washington, DC.
· They will perform at the 2014 NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 8 p.m. The concert will also be streamed live at arts.gov with an archive available following the event. Free tickets to the concert are available at lisner.org. Location: The George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st Street NW in Washington, DC