Jazz Loft Project Wins 2010 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award

pic_DeemTaylorThis morning the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers issued a press release announcing their 42nd Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards.  Here’s part of it:

The ASCAP Deems Taylor Multimedia Award honors three inter-related undertakings: a book, The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965,Written by Sam Stephenson, Published by Alfred A. Knopf; a radio program, The Jazz Loft Project Radio Series: Produced at WNYC Radio (in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University) by Sara Fishko with Dean Cappello, Julie Burstein and Edward Haber; and a website, www.jazzloftproject.org, produced at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University by Sam Stephenson, Lauren Hart and Dan Partridge.

The numbers of invaluable people and institutions who made JLP possible can’t be listed here.  Some of them are listed above.  Three key institutions that aren’t mentioned are Smith’s archive at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona; the Splinter Group of Carrboro, NC who created our website; and the New York Public Library for Performing Arts at Lincoln Center that opened the JLP exhibition last February.

This project seemed impossible at times; quite a few times, actually.  But we had a home that welcomed every aspect of it – the unique Center for Documentary Studies at Duke (warm thanks to Tom Rankin, Greg Britz, and Lynn McKnight) – and we had funding from the Reva and David Logan Foundation of Chicago.  The gutsy Logan funding (nobody had ever heard these tapes and our first grant proposals failed for that reason) allowed us to travel to twenty-one states and interview more than 400 participants from the scene at 821 Sixth Avenue.  The Logan funding also bought us time to achieve grants from NEH, National Archives, and Grammy Foundation to preserve and catalog Smith’s 4000 hours of tapes, a daunting (and ongoing) project by itself.  Without a home and without support, you can’t do work like this.  In today’s economic climate this work may well have been impossible.

Also winning an award this year is longtime JLP friend Robin D.G. Kelley for his remarkable biography of Monk.  That pleases us.

Special gratitude to Sara Fishko for submitting the entry to ASCAP for us, not to mention the beautiful, moving series she created.

Finally, indelible gratitude goes to the Smith family and estate.

- Sam Stephenson

Comments are closed.