Recently named winners of the 52nd annual ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards for outstanding print, broadcast, liner notes and new media coverage of music span an impressively eclectic range of musical subjects — including the first blues recording by a black female artist; the issue of racial bias in orchestras, the career of a towering jazz critic, the endurance of Morocco’s Master Musicians of Jajouka; a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a classic 1960s film soundtrack; a profile of a composer and educator dedicated to diversity and sustainability, a landmark 1969 Memphis blues festival; and a look at a composer/flutist who incorporates politics into her work.
Established in 1967 to honor the memory of composer, critic and commentator Deems Taylor, who died in 1966 after a distinguished career that included six years as President of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), The ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards are made possible by the generous support of the Virgil Thomson Foundation. Virgil Thomson (1896 – 1989) was one of the leading American composers and critics of the 20th century, and a former member of the ASCAP Board of Directors.
The 2021 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award recipients are as follows:
The Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for an article in the pop music field is presented to Daphne A. Brooks for “100 Years Ago, 'Crazy Blues' Sparked a Revolution for Black Women Fans,” published in The New York Times.
The Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for an article in the concert music field goes to Aaron Flagg for his AmericanOrchestras.org story, “Anti-Black Discrimination in American Orchestras.”
The Virgil Thomson Award for Outstanding Music Criticism in the concert music field is presented to Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim for her New York Times article, “Part Teacher, Part Den Mother, A Composer Fosters Diversity,” a look at the career and mentorship activities of California-based composer and educator Gabriela Lena Frank.
The Virgil Thomson Award for Outstanding Music Criticism in the pop music field recognizes Ted Gioia for his appreciation of legendary jazz critic Whitney Balliett, “The Music Critic Who Tried to Disappear,” published by City Journal.
The ASCAP Foundation Paul Williams “Loved the Liner Notes” Award for pop music honors film music scholar Jon Burlingame for his work on the recording MIDNIGHT COWBOY (an expanded reissue of the soundtrack from the classic 1969 film) on Quartet Records. The “Loved the Liner Notes” Award was established in 2016 and is funded by Paul Williams, President of The ASCAP Foundation.
The Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Television Broadcast Award honors Fat Possum Records and No Sudden Movements for their release of the documentary Memphis '69 (Joe LaMatinna, Director; Lisa LaMattina, Producer and Bruce Watson, Executive Producer), which chronicles the three-day 1969 Memphis Country Blues Festival. The program features performances by notable blues giants of the time including Sleepy John Estes, Son Thomas, Robert Wilkins, Bukka White and Mississippi Fred McDowell. The documentary can currently be viewed on YouTube.
The Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Broadcast/Media Award recognizes Frank J. Oteri of New Music USA's New Music Box for the podcast, “VALERIE COLEMAN: WRITING MUSIC FOR PEOPLE.”
The Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Special Recognition Award is given to John Kruth for his timely article, “Ceremonies Against the Virus: Bachir Attar of the Master Musicians of Jajouka,” published by the online journal, Please Kill Me.
The ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards judging panel for 2021 was comprised of ASCAP members Michelle DiBucci, Paul Yeon Lee, Terry Radigan and Dom Flemons. Jim Steinblatt provided professional guidance and advice.
More information and a link to apply to The ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards is available at ascapfoundation.org/