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Michael Cleveland named NEA National Heritage Fellow

Published on Jul 28th, 2022

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Indiana native and talented bluegrass fiddler, Michael Cleveland was recently named as the 2022 National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Cleveland joins nine other fellowship recipients from across the country. Each fellowship includes a $25,000 award, and all the recipients will be featured in a film that will premiere in November 2022 on arts.gov. Learn more about the National Heritage Fellows and the NEA on their website

Michael Cleveland grew up in Henryville, Indiana and now lives in Charlestown, Indiana. After picking up the fiddle at age 4, Michael’s musical momentum began to propel him forward towards early success. “When I started taking lessons at age 4,” he remembers, “I told the teacher right up front that I wanted to learn how to play bluegrass and I wanted to play ‘Orange Blossom Spe- cial.'”

In 2006, when Michael formed his own band Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper. Together with Flamekeeper members Josh Richards (guitar), Nathan Livers (mandolin), Jasiah Shrode (banjo) and Chris Douglas (bass), Cleveland makes his way around the country performing festivals, clubs, and performing arts centers, delighting audiences, leaving them with jaws dropped in complete amazement. “It’s wicked to see how much music he pulls out of a bow,” continues Vince. “He’s untouchable.” 

Cleveland has been recognized 12 times as the IBMA’s “Fiddler of the Year” and in 2018 was inducted into the National Fiddler’s Hall of Fame. His recording “Fiddler’s Dream” was nominated in 2018 for a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, and in 2019, he won a Grammy for his album Tall Fiddler

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