President Obama will present New Orleans native and internationally known jazz artist Wynton Marsalis with a National Humanities Medal on Sept. 22, honoring his contributions to the arts and music, the White House announced Wednesday.
The ceremony in the East Room of the White House next Thursday will also honor recipients of the National Medal of Arts. They include: legendary comedian/actor/writer/producer Mel Brooks, actor Morgan Freeman, actress/singer Audra McDonald and record producer Berry Gordy.
The Humanities Medal is the second such honor for Marsalis, who was also honored in 2005 with the National Medal of Arts.
According to the White House citation, Marsalis, who has been artistic director of New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center for nearly 30 years, is being honored with this new award "for celebrating the traditions of jazz music from New Orleans to Lincoln Center and beyond.”
“As a virtuoso trumpet player, composer, and educator, he has brought jazz to a wider audience and inspired music lovers to embrace America’s quintessential sound,” the National Humanities Medal citation reads.
Marsalis is the second of six sons of the musically-renowned Marsalis family led by patriarch Ellis Marsalis. Wynton Marsalis has won nine Grammy awards and has been honored with the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He was the first person ever honored with the Pulitzer for a jazz composition.
The National Humanities Medal is presented by the National Endowment for the Humanities, established by Congress in 1965 to fund humanities research, public programs, education, and preservation projects.
Marsalis is the fourth New Orleans performer or group to be honored with the prestigious award. Legendary performer Fats Domino earned the National Medal of Arts in 1998. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was similarly honored in 2006. Composer/producer and performer Allen Toussaint, who died last year, was honored with the medal in 2012.