Ken Burns American Heritage Prize to be awarded to Wynton Marsalis

American Prairie Reserve is proud to announce that Wynton Marsalis has been named the recipient of the 2020 Ken Burns American Heritage Prize. The award will be presented May 6, 2020, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The evening’s festivities will include remarks by Ken Burns, Wynton Marsalis, Rosanne Cash, Board Chair George E. Matelich, and American Prairie Reserve CEO Alison Fox.

Named in honor of America’s most revered visual historian and filmmaker, the Ken Burns American Heritage Prize recognizes individuals whose achievements have advanced our collective understanding of America’s heritage and the indomitable American spirit of our people. Nominees for the annual Prize consist of visionary artists, authors, educators, filmmakers, historians, and scientists. The candidates are chosen by a National Jury of distinguished leaders who represent communities across the country and share a common appreciation of America’s heritage.

“It’s a privilege to lend my name to a prize honoring individuals whose accomplishments reinforce the nation’s understanding of all that is possible. And as one who has been irrevocably changed by the majesty of the American West, I am inspired by American Prairie Reserve’s historic mission to return a vast swath of Montana to the spectacular natural beauty first enjoyed by Native Americans and later by Lewis and Clark. The Prize we will present together to Wynton acknowledges the historic role that the Great Plains played in helping to shape America’s character. It’s that same character, courage, and fortitude that Wynton’s tremendous work elucidates. This indomitable American spirit is alive and well today, in Wynton and in the men and women in many arenas whose work reminds us that our lives serve a greater purpose.”
– Ken Burns

Wynton Marsalis is the Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC), which he helped found. Marsalis grew up in a musical household in New Orleans and studied classical trumpet at The Julliard School in New York City, and pursued his love of jazz by joining Art Blakey’s band. Aside from overseeing Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis continues to perform, compose, and participate in educational workshops. Marsalis created the companion soundtrack recording to Ken Burns’s documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson and appeared in Burns’s Jazz and Country Music documentaries. In addition to his musical talent, Marsalis has written six books.

“The momentum of folly leads us to embrace an intellectual and spiritual corrosion that confuses commerce with cultivation, remuneration with regeneration, and money with meaning. I love the term “rewilding” because it is at once innovation and conservation. American Prairie Reserve’s rewilding of our nation’s landscape reintroduces us to our natural instincts. Ken Burns’s rewilding of our collective memory illuminates the hidden corners of our humanity. Jazz is a music that rewilds the soul with every listen. I am deeply appreciative to receive this prize from an institution I respect, bearing the name of a genius I admire and on behalf of a music that defines us at our best,” said Mr. Marsalis upon being notified of his selection as the 2020 Prize recipient.

American Prairie Reserve, which created the Prize, is a modern-day embodiment of America’s optimistic and boundless approach to accomplishing the unprecedented — in this case, by creating the largest nature reserve in the continental United States, located on the Great Plains of northeastern Montana.

Source: American Prairie Reserve

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