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Jazz Trumpet Professor Marcus Belgrave Awarded Kresge Eminent Artist Prize

Nov. 12, 2009

Marci Janas ’91

BelgraveMarcusCropped

Visiting Professor of Jazz Trumpet Marcus Belgrave, called the “patriarch of Detroit jazz,” was honored in October with the Kresge Foundation’s 2009 Kresge Eminent Artist prize. The $50,000 award acknowledges Belgrave’s lifelong dual careers as performer and teacher, and his profound influence on the musical life of his adopted hometown.

“Belgrave’s world-class musicianship, charisma, swing, and commitment to mentoring young musicians—many of whom have become stars—have made Detroit a hipper city than it would have been without him,” wrote Mark Stryker in the Detroit Free Press. Wynton Marsalis, interviewed by Stryker for the article, said Belgrave’s award is “richly deserved.”

Belgrave calls the award “the ultimate appreciation … a culmination of a period of my life. [It] shows me that the work I’ve been doing has been appreciated. Most of the young people I’ve touched are now quite famous. I told them the same thing my father told me: ‘Music will take you places you could never imagine.’ And that has happened.”

“Through his dedication and virtuosity as a jazz trumpeter and teacher, Marcus Belgrave has fanned the flames of musical greatness in Detroit and sown the seeds for successive generations of talented musicians,” says Rip Rapson, president of the Kresge Foundation. “We are proud to claim him as a Detroiter and to salute him as an artist of the highest order.”

Detroit has been very good to its adopted son. In 2008, a testimonial resolution by the Detroit City Council honored Belgrave as “Jazz Master Laureate” of the city. The resolution cites Belgrave’s work as a trumpeter, composer, arranger, recording artist, and producer, including such career highlights as his early performance years with Ray Charles and recordings with, among others, Max Roach, Charles Mingus, and Eric Dolphy; his session work as one of Motown Records’ “Funk Brothers;” and his appellation as the first Jazz Chair of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

The Kresge Eminent Artist Award recognizes an exceptional artist for his or her professional achievements and contributions to the cultural community, and encourages that individual’s pursuit of a chosen art form as well as an ongoing commitment to the city of Detroit.


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