Four artists & one advocate receive awards May 6
For Immediate Release
COLUMBIA, S.C. – 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 2020 recipients are:
- Kristin Scott Benson (Boiling Springs): Bluegrass Banjo
- David Galloway (Seneca): Spiritual Gospel Singing
- Voices of El Shaddai (Hilton Head Island/Bluffton area): Lowcountry Gospel Music
- Judy Twitty (Gilbert): Quilting
- Vennie Deas Moore (Georgetown): Folklore and Cultural Preservation
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 the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum. Community members make nominations to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the speaker of the House and president of the Senate select the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state.
“In the face of nonstop change, these recipients are to be commended for keeping South Carolina’s traditional art forms alive and thriving,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director David Platts said. “The value of these art forms is that they tell who we are as South Carolinians. They do exceptional work on our behalf, and we all are grateful for what these award recipients do.”
The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award will be presented along with the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts at the South Carolina Arts Awards on Wednesday, May 6 at the Pastides Alumni Center at UofSC (900 Senate St., Columbia). A ticketed celebratory luncheon will begin the festivities at 11:30 a.m. before the free, public ceremony at 1 p.m. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase through SouthCarolinaArts.com or by calling 803.734.8696.
The UofSC McKissick Museum will host a mixer to celebrate this year’s Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipients on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, from 6-8 p.m., at the Blue Moon Ballroom in West Columbia (554 Meeting St.). Admission is free with a McKissick membership, or $5 for non-members. Please RSVP or purchase your ticket via Eventbrite here or by phone at 803.777.2876. Guests are encouraged to buy/reserve their tickets by Friday, May 1. 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.For more information about the Folk Heritage Awards, visit the S.C. Arts Commission website, SouthCarolinaArts.com.
ABOUT THE FOLK HERITAGE AWARDS RECIPIENTS
Kristin Scott Benson (Artist Category, Bluegrass Banjo) was first nourished in her music tradition by her musician father and her grandfather, Orval Hogan, who played mandolin with the WBT Briarhoppers. Growing up in South Carolina’s Upstate region, where bluegrass was part of the local culture, she started on the mandolin at five years old, and by age ten was drawn to the banjo. Her mentor, Al Osteen, a revered banjo picker and teacher, taught Benson to not only play, but how to “think and listen.” She passes this solid foundation, along with her extensive experience, on to her own students. Benson first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry at age 19 and has since played there over 100 times. She has been recognized as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year four times, and in 2018 received the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. She has played with the Grammy-nominated bluegrass band, The Grascals, since 2008.
David Galloway (Artist Category, Spiritual Gospel Singing) has spent his life in the Pendleton and Sandy Springs communities. His musical influence rests largely with his mother, who was a pastor, and her siblings, who used to sing “shape notes.” Galloway’s elders also instilled a passion for the negro spiritual. As teenagers, he and his brothers sang gospel at revivals and church services throughout the Upstate. Galloway served as Superintendent of the Sunday School at the King’s Chapel AME Church in Pendleton, where he was also an inspiration for the Junior Choir, the Young Adult Choir, the Senior Choir, the Gospel Choir, and the Male Chorus. Galloway and the KCs—a group upholding the roots of traditional spirituals, shape-note music and contemporary gospel—have sung at local churches, revivals, AME Conventions, and hosted gospel programs. Galloway remains a member of the Kings Chapel AME church choirs and as a soloist, participates in special programs, revivals, and anniversaries.
For over 27 years, Voices of El Shaddai (Artist Organization Category, Lowcountry Gospel Music) choir have come together to sing. Most Voices members are native South Carolina Sea Islanders from a variety of local church choirs. Transcending geographic and musical boundaries, their music stems from oral traditions within the Lowcountry African-American religious experience. Repetition, a call-and-response pattern, and strong vocals are musical elements historically based in 19th-century African American spirituals, with melodic connections to West Africa. The Voices’ unique repertoire includes both traditional spirituals and contemporary gospel. The group’s knowledge of indigenous Gullah-Geechee musical traditions is passed down through generations of family and community members. Committed to raising the visibility of and appreciation for Lowcountry Gospel and Gullah music and culture, the Voices perform regularly at programs presented by such organizations as the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, the Gullah Museum, and the Coastal Discovery Museum, as well as at community celebrations and various churches and congregations.
Judy Twitty (Artist Category, Quilting) has spent a lifetime immersed in the art of patchwork quilting. As a girl in New Brunswick, Canada, she spent time with her grandmother, enjoying the camaraderie of quilting circles. After marrying and moving to South Carolina, Twitty took a patchwork quilting class in 1972 at the Columbia YWCA, where she soon began teaching. Over the years, Twitty has made quilts for friends, family, and as donations to community members. She has taught classes and workshops throughout the state, written articles for diverse publications, and helped found the statewide guild, Quilters of South Carolina (QSC). Twitty’s love of innovation has inspired her and others to explore the limits of their imagination, from a revival of the 19th-century Victorian crazy quilt technique, to creating embroidered, eco-dyed fabric books. Twitty’s quilting has garnered awards at local quilt shows, the South Carolina State Fair, the QSC Quilters’ Expo, and the prestigious American Quilters Society annual show.
Vennie Deas Moore (Advocacy Category, Folklore & Cultural Preservation) is a folklorist and cultural preservationist. Born and raised in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, she has witnessed firsthand the community’s ever-changing cultural landscape. Her thirty-year career is informed and inspired by her ancestors, particularly her mother, Eugenia Deas, a 2005 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipient. Deas Moore’s extensive freelance career encompasses oral history, folklore research, documentary photography, and medical history. Through her research, writing, documentary photography, and public lectures, she has created a body of impactful and powerful stories as a vehicle for education and cultural preservation. Her work focuses on Lowcountry people, places, work, traditions, and foodways, with an enduring specialty in the heritage of coastal fisherman. Her research has led to collaborations with diverse state and national historical sites and institutions, including the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum, the South Carolina State Museum, Historic Columbia, and Richland County Library, among many others. Deas Moore is currently a cultural historian and curator at the Rice Museum in Georgetown.
ABOUT THE FOLKLIFE AND TRADITIONAL ARTS PROGRAM
The Folklife and Traditional Arts Program is designed to encourage, promote, conserve and honor the diverse community-based art forms that make South Carolina distinct. The major initiatives of the program serve both established and emerging cultural groups that call South Carolina home.
ABOUT MCKISSICK MUSEUM
The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum is located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe with available parking in the garage at the corner of Pendleton and Bull streets. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. The Museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The Museum is closed Sundays and University holidays. For more information, please call at 803.777.7251 or visit sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.
ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION
With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians.
Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:
- arts education,
- community arts development,
- and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.