Pitt Jazz Studies Director Nicole Mitchell has been named a 2020 United States Artists (USA) Fellow—an honor accompanied by a $50,000 cash award to use as she wishes. She is one of 50 national artists across 10 disciplines to win the award this year.
“I was driving when I got the phone call and became so flustered I had to pull the car over,” Mitchell said with a laugh, recalling the day she received the news.
In making the announcement, USA President and CEO Deanna Haggag said of this year’s fellows: “Each and every one of them stands out as a visionary influence in their respective field.”
Mitchell took up the position of Jazz Studies director in January 2019.
She is a member of the We Have Voice Collective, a national group of musicians, performers and scholars who draw attention to inequity in the music industry. On Jan. 17, three other collective members joined her at Pitt’s Bellefield Auditorium for a panel discussion and concert, a premiere performance for collective members. She also is collaborating in Pitt’s K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program in late February and with Manchester Craftsman’s Guild for student workshops this spring. Mitchell is also looking into a community-focused Jazz and Creative Music Intensive for women and girls.
As far as the USA award, Mitchell is again thinking about helping emerging artists.
“I feel really humbled by this and want to use it to make impact,” she said. “My dream would be to use part of it to create a new grant program for artists who are just at the edge of doing great things.”