Home News & Events 4 Midwest Artists Receive Jazz Road Grants

4 Midwest Artists Receive Jazz Road Grants

Today, Jazz Road, a national initiative supporting jazz artists, announced its largest investment in the field to date. 4 Midwestern artists are among a group of 52 total artists receiving grants of up to $40,000 each for Jazz Road Creative Residencies, allowing them the opportunity to further explore their artform and work.

Learn more about the 52 recipients of the Jazz Road Creative Residencies grant via our partners at South Arts.


Jazz Road Creative Residencies recipient Natural Information Society of Chicago, IL

“Jazz Road Creative Residencies is uniquely artist-centric,” explained Sara Donnelly, South Arts’ Director of Jazz. “We left the interpretation of ‘residency’ open-ended so that artists could shape projects with few parameters and the greatest flexibility possible. These grants can help artists fulfill their dreams, be they about large-scale creative visions or the need to connect with new audiences. Each artist maintains ownership of their work and receives equitable pay for their time and experience while conducting their project.”

Congratulations to these Midwestern awardees!


Jazz Road Creative Residencies recipient Mars Williams of Mars Williams Instigation Music Box Orchestra from Chicago, IL. Photo by Kelly Rae Weime.

Damon Locks / Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble

Artist Location: Chicago, Illinois

Grant Amount: $40,000

About the Project Locks with Ben LaMar Gay and Arif Smith, will present a series of performances by the Black Monument Ensemble with partner, the Big Ears Festival. The ensemble will work through a pair of Black monument sites in East Tennessee – the Children’s Defense Fund’s Alex Haley Farm and the Highlander Research and Education Center. The ensemble will visit Black artist groups and youth organizations focused on vulnerable communities for workshops. A final performance will be presented during the Big Ears Festival.

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Ernest Dawkins

Artist Location: Chicago, Illinois

Grant Amount: $40,000

About the Project Create new artistic work, Refound Connections, based on history/culture of Durham. Hold performance, masterclasses and workshops for young musicians with partner Art of Cool Project. Audio and video documentation will be captured.

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Joshua Abrams / Natural Information Society

Artist Location: Chicago, Illinois

Grant Amount: $40,000

About the Project Creation of new work to be recorded with large ensemble including Chicago’s most active experimental composer/performers; presented at Constellation and the South Side’s Stony Island Art Banks with Rebuild Foundation performance space. This space cultivates activism for cultural development and neighborhood transformation.

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Mars Williams / Mars Williams Instigation Music Box Orchestra

Artist Location: Chicago, Illinois

Grant Amount: $40,000

About the Project Will be in residence at Music Box Village in New Orleans to develop and premiere DEVIL’S WHISTLE. This is an extension of earlier project for 13 interactive “musical houses” at Music Box Village, a community art project featuring unique, artist-made musical installations on a forested plot in the Upper 9th Ward in New Orleans. Williams will collaborate with media director, Kim Alpert, to videodocument. Elastic Arts and Experimental Music Studio in Chicago will host performances. The Chicago-based orchestra will travel back to New Orleans for performance.

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Jazz Road, a national program funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is led by South Arts in partnership with the five other U.S. Regional Arts Organizations (including Arts Midwest as well as Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Western Arts Alliance/WESTAF).