Tennessee is home to many outstanding folk artists who have mastered, preserved, and passed on their traditional skills. A number of Tennesseans have received special recognition by both federal and state programs for lifetime dedication and accomplishments in the folk arts. Their contributions to our culture are honored and remembered through these heritage awards, and sources about their lives and work, linked by clicking their names below, provide a sampling of the best of Tennessee’s traditional arts.

National Heritage Fellowship

An award presented annually since 1982 to about a dozen Americans by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award

presented every other year since 2001 as part of the Governor’s Arts Awards, a program of the Tennessee Arts Commission. The award honors “long-term achievements within art forms that are rooted in the traditional or ethnic culture of Tennessee.”