Sixteen master folk artists, including famed blues guitarist B.B. King, a Greek-American bagpipe player and an Indian cornhusk weaver, were chosen Saturday as winners of $5,000 fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The National Heritage Fellowships are awarded annually to recognize what NEA chairman John Frohnmayer called "our living national treasures" in the traditional arts. The winners are:- ETTA BAKER of Morganton, N.C., an African-American master of the "Piedmont blues" style of guitar music from the Appalachian foothills.
- GEORGE BLAKE, a craftsman of the Hupa-Yurok Indian tribe from Hoopa Valley, Calif., whose products include ceremonial regalia, featherwork and dugout canoes.
- JACK COEN, an Irish-American flutist from the Bronx, N.Y.
- ROSE FRANK, a cornhusk weaver from the Nez Perce tribe in Sweetwater, Idaho.
- EDUARDO GUERRERO, a Mexican-American singer, guitarist and composer from Cathedral City, Calif.
- KHAMVONG INSIXIENGMAI of Fresno, Calif., a celebrated Laotian singer who emigrated to the United States in 1980.
- DONALD L. KING, a Western saddle maker from Sheridan, Wyo., whose ornamental leather designs are displayed in the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Museum of the American Cowboy.
- RILEY "B.B." KING of Las Vegas, Nev., the rhythm and blues guitarist from rural Mississippi who has won five Grammy Awards and influenced many rock music stars.
- ESTHER LITTLEFIELD of Sitka, Alaska, a master of beadwork, basketmaking and ceremonial clothing in the Tlingit Indian tradition.
- SEISHO "Harry" NAKASONE, a Honolulu musician specializing in the sanshin, an ancient stringed instrument from his ancestral homeland in Okinawa.
- IRVIN PEREZ, an Isleno or Canary Island singer from Poydras, La., whose repertory includes songs from 15th-century Spain.
- MORGAN SEXTON, an Appalachian banjo player and singer from Cornettesville, Ky.
- NIKITAS TSIMOURIS of Tarpon Springs, Fla., a master of the centuries-old tradition of the tsabouna or Greek bagpipe, which he learned on Kalymnos island before he emigrated to the United States in 1968.
- GUSSIE WELLS and AMBER WILLIAMS of Oakland, Calif., masters in African-American quilting.
- MELVIN WINE, an Appalachian fiddler from Copen, W.Va., who has repeatedly won the fiddling contest at the West Virginia State Folk Festival.