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2021 Doris Duke Artists Awards include prominent jazz musicians

Robin Lloyd hands an award made of glass to Wayne Shorter.
Earshot Jazz
Robin Lloyd presents Wayne Shorter with an award from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2015.

The Doris Duke Foundation announced its annual Artist Awards on Thursday. Three of the recipients earned the recognition for their ongoing innovation and impact in the field of jazz.

The 2021 Doris Duke Artists will each receive an award of $275,000 intended as an investment in their artistic potential and celebration of their ongoing contributions to the fields of contemporary dance, jazz and theater.

The largest national award to individuals in the performing arts, the prize consists of $250,000 in completely unrestricted funding and an additional $25,000 dedicated to encouraging savings for retirement — something jazz musicians rarely achieve.

Even better, the funds are not tied to specific projects but are available to recipients to use in the manner they determine will best support their ability to create and thrive.

Pianist and composer Kris Davis; pianist, composer and founder of the Panama Jazz Festival Danilo Pérez; and saxophonist, composer and graphic novelist Wayne Shorter are the 2021 Doris Duke Jazz Artists.

“Art is the antidote to crisis. These exemplary artists demonstrate that a time of unprecedented disruption in the arts and across society cannot stifle the power of great art to persevere,” said Sam Gill, president and CEO of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, said, “With the knowledge that these performing artists excel in their forms, we recognize that they deserve funding that trusts them to best determine how to invest in their own futures. These awards are intended to enable artists with the freedom to create the way that artists are meant to create: freely, organically and without restrictions.”

Overall, the Doris Duke Artist Awards program has awarded more than $35.4 million in funding to 129 artists since the program began in 2012. Previous Doris Duke Artists have used the funding for a wide expanse of needs — including creative research, exploration and study, mortgages for personal and professional spaces, travel and/or restoration time, child care, health-care costs and creation of a financial safety net, among many other personal and professional uses.

To read more about the Doris Duke Artist Awards and the 2021 Doris Duke Artists, visit

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.