Willard Jenkins

2024 NEA Jazz Master. Independent arts consultant, concerts and festivals artistic director/curator, producer, and writer

One of the most prominent voices in promoting jazz and its significance in American culture, NEA Jazz Master Willard Jenkins has worked in jazz as a writer, broadcaster, educator, historian, artistic director, and arts consultant since the 1970s. Currently the artistic director of the DC Jazz Festival and host of the Ancient/Future program on DC’s WPFW radio station, Jenkins is an authority on the local as well as national jazz scene.

Ain’t But a Few of Us: Black Music Writers Tell Their Story–a collection of essays edited by Jenkins–won the Jazz Journalist’s Association Prestigious Book Award in 2023. Jenkins is also the 2024 recipient of the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy, an award honoring his major contributions to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the American jazz art form.