The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Washington National Opera (WNO) announced that countertenor John Holiday is the 2017 winner of the Marian Anderson Vocal Award. The award celebrates excellence in performance by recognizing a young American singer who has achieved initial professional success in the area of opera, oratorio, or recital repertory, and who exhibits promise for a significant career. In order to honor Ms. Anderson's personal and humanitarian achievements, the award encourages service and education. In addition to receiving a $10,000 cash prize and a Kennedy Center recital, award winners are asked to participate in a short residency at the opera workshop program of Washington's Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
June Goodman of Danbury, Connecticut, a friend of Ms. Anderson's, provided the initial impetus for the award, to recognize the outstanding qualities of the groundbreaking African-American singer. The Marian Anderson Award Foundation then established the Award at Fairfield County's Community Foundation. In September 2002, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Fairfield County's Community Foundation collaborated to create a permanent tribute to Ms. Anderson's historic artistic achievements by presenting a cash award of $10,000 and a recital at the Kennedy Center each fall for one outstanding singer.
Sylvia McNair, Denyce Graves, Philip Zawiska, Nancy Maultsby, Patricia Racette, Michelle DeYoung, Nathan Gunn and Margurite Krull
In keeping with its mission to develop programs and initiatives that connect exemplary artists with the community, the Kennedy Center will mentor the Marian Anderson Vocal Award recipients to create an education program aligning with the singer’s skills and interests aimed to positively impact vocal music students at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts through master classes or workshops. The Duke Ellington School of the Arts is the District of Columbia’s public arts magnet high school and is co-managed by the Kennedy Center. The school offers a pre-college preparatory and comprehensive arts curriculum which includes a major in vocal music. In announcing the educational component that was added to the Award beginning in 2016, Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter noted, "I am thrilled that the Marian Anderson Vocal Award will expand to include mentorship between the winner and the remarkable vocal students at the Duke Ellington School. The life and career of Marian Anderson stands as an example to all young artists, and this Award will continue to honor her legacy in meaningful ways."
Each year, a selection committee consisting of distinguished members of the opera and classical music communities will review and select the recipient of The Marian Anderson Vocal Award. The Award is conferred, and not open to application. Artists are nominated by opera companies, orchestral and choral organizations, agents, professional music critics, and other organizations across the country.