Maryland Blues Master Phil Wiggins Selected as National Heritage Fellowship Recipient Print
Written by Maryland Traditions   
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 15:22

phil wiggins2BALTIMORE, MD (June 20, 2017) – Blues harmonica master and Montgomery County resident Phil Wiggins has been selected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as a National Heritage Fellowship recipient. The fellowship, given annually by the NEA, is the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Wiggins is among nine folk and traditional artists from across the U.S. who will receive $25,000 at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in September.

“Folk and traditional arts are an integral part of our state’s unique heritage and we are proud that the National Endowment for the Arts has chosen Marylander Phil Wiggins for this prestigious honor,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “The work that Phil has done as a traditional artist and the art form that he continues to share with fellow musicians is critical in helping Maryland continue to cultivate a strong and thriving arts community.” Steeped in an acoustic country blues tradition known as Piedmont blues, Wiggins has been playing harmonica since he was a teenager.

“Looking over the other people that have received this award, it’s amazing that I’m in that company,” Wiggins said. “That’s a huge affirmation for me to be considered in that group.”

At the Maryland State Arts Council, which houses the state folklife program Maryland Traditions, Director Chad Edward Buterbaugh said, “We’re just thrilled that Phil is being honored. His work is an indispensable piece of the country blues tradition in the United States.”

The NEA National Heritage Fellowships Awards Ceremony will take place at the Library of Congress on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 5:30 p.m., and the NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert will take place on Friday, Sept. 15, at 8 p.m. at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium. Concert tickets are first-come, first-served and will be available later this summer. The concert will also be webcast live at

More information about both of these events will be available later this summer. To learn more about Wiggins’ life and work, visit To see the full list of 2017 National Heritage Fellowship recipients, visit the NEA site at

Maryland Traditions is a statewide partnership of folklorists and folklife specialists. Headquartered in Baltimore, the program derives its strength from the work of six key partners in identifying, documenting, supporting, and presenting Maryland folklife: maritime culture advocacy through the Coastal Heritage Alliance (St. Michaels); Appalachian folklife research and programming through Frostburg State University; traditional arts programming through the National Council for the Traditional Arts (Silver Spring); American Studies research and education at University of Maryland, Baltimore County; decoy art and maritime culture expertise through the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art (Salisbury); and community folklife research and programming through the Sandy Spring Museum.

The mission of the Maryland State Arts Council is to encourage and invest in the advancement of the arts for the people of our state. The goals of the council are to support artists and arts organizations in their pursuit of artistic excellence, to ensure the accessibility of the arts to all citizens, and to promote statewide awareness of arts resources and opportunities.

### Image: Phil Wiggins performing at the 7th Annual Maryland Traditions Folklife Festival, June 10, 2017, in Baltimore. Photo by Edwin Remsberg Photographs.

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