Musicians, dancers, composers win this year's Kresge Artist Fellowships

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

The founder of the National Arab Orchestra, a popular Detroit rapper, several jazz artists and a dancer considered the "Queen of Detroit Jit" are among this year's winners of Kresge Artist Fellowships.

Twenty artists in all, announced Thursday morning, received fellowships and were awarded $25,000 each to use any way they choose. Ten winners of the Gilda Emerging Artist Awards also were named, who will receive $5,000 each. All told, 31 artists across Metro Detroit received awards this year, totaling $550,000.

“The big reveal of a year’s Kresge Artist Fellows and Gilda Award winners has become something of a Metro Detroit rite of summer," said Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson. "Many of us find confirmation about artists on our radar screen — and more importantly we’re introduced to many new artists making their marks on the city’s vibrant arts and cultural scenes. These are 31 artists we can look forward to seeing, hearing and experiencing in the months and years to come thanks to this program that supports and elevates artists individually."

Twenty singers, dancers, composers, instrumentalists and interdisciplinary artists from across Metro Detroit are this winner's of the Kresge Artist Fellowships.

This year's Kresge Artist Fellowship and Gilda Emerging Artist Award winners were divided into two main categories: Live Arts and Film & Music. Separate panels of judges determined the winners for each category.

Since 2008, Kresge Arts in Detroit has awarded more than $7.36 million to artists in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, through its Kresge Eminent Artist Awards, Kresge Artist Fellowships and 42 Gilda Awards.

This year's Kresge Eminent Artist, announced in January, is Olayami Dabls, a Detroit artist and muralist most known as the founder of the MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit. He received $50,000.

Kresge Artist Fellowships are awarded based on several factors, including a demonstrated track record of artistic achievement and high-quality work. Other factors include potential to grow and advance in one’s artistic career and the potential to reflect, enhance, or impact communities within Metro Detroit. 

This year's Kresge Artist Fellowship winners for Live Arts are Marc Brewer, dance; Deidre D.S.SENSE Smith, performance art; Hadassah GreenSky, interdisciplinary work; Queen Gabby, a dancer considered the Queen of Detroit Jit, for dance and choreography; and *Thank You So Much For Coming, interdisciplinary work.

The winners for Film & Music include: Black Milk, a well-known Detroit rapper, for music composition and performance; Leith Campbell, sound art; Ali Allan Colding, music performance; DAAY, interdisciplinary work; Demario Dotson, interdisciplinary work; Carl George, film directing; Akhnek Kenneth Green, sound art; Michael Ibrahim, the founder of the National Arab Orchestra, for music composition and performance; De’Sean Jones, music composition and performance; KESSWA, interdisciplinary work; Tammy Lakkis, music composition and performance; Theo Parrish, music composition and performance; Jaribu Shahid, music composition and performance; Summer Like The Season, music composition and performance; and Kaleigh Wilder, music performance.

“The powerful pool of creatives from Detroit this year reflects the dynamic innovation, historical memory, and importance of creating transformative spiritual experiences,” said Piper Carter, an image maker and cultural curator who was one of this year's Film & Music panelists. “With a commitment to community, Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards represent an appreciation for advancing the artist’s craft and the purposeful ideas needed in and for our world at this time.”

The 2022 Gilda Emerging Artist Award winners will receive $5,000 each.

This year's Gilda Emerging Artist Awards winners, meanwhile, go to artists who are earlier in their careers, are gaining momentum and "who demonstrate exceptional potential through creative risk-taking and pushing the boundaries of their chosen art form," according to Kresge. The awards are named after the late Gilda Snowden, a renowned Detroit artist who died in 2014.

This year Gilda Emerging Artist Awards winners are Anetria Cole, playwriting; Joel Fluent Greene, performance art; Trishawna, dance; Natasha Beste, interdisciplinary work; Jeremy Brockman, film directing; Detroit Bureau of Sound, music composition and performance; Gary Jay, film directing; Razi Jafri, film directing; and Jhayla Mosley, film directing.