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Herb Alpert Award In The Arts Announces 2022 Winners


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In its 28th year of unrestricted gifts supporting artists in diverse fields, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts has announced its 10 winners for 2022, honoring creatives working in film/video, visual arts, music, theater and dance.

“The 10 artists we celebrate this year are explorers, unafraid of the unknown,” says Alpert, the legendary trumpeter, multiple Grammy Award-winning artist and co-founder of A&M Records.

In 2021, the number of awards doubled, a decision that was made during the pandemic in order to increase its support of artists during challenging economic times. “We doubled the amount of recipients,” underlines Alpert, explaining, “Artists are the heart and soul of the country. As my friend Sir Ken Robinson says, ‘Creativity is as important as literacy.’ This whole country and world was developed by creative people and creativity is a big deal.”

Each award is selected by a different panel of three judges who are experts in their field and Alpert takes no part in the review process. “I stay in my own lane — I paint and I sculpt and I make my music,” says Alpert. “I want [the awards] to be totally legitimate. It’s been picked by people who are really qualified and they vet the awards quite thoroughly and I’m always happy with the outcome.”

This year’s winners are Yanira Castro and nia love in the area of dance; Bani Khoshnoudi and Terence Nance (film/video); Tomeka Reid and Cory Smythe (music); Virginia Grice and Aleshea Harris (theater); and Guadalupe Maravilla and Martine Syms (visual arts). Syms’ debut feature film, The African Desperate, recently played at New York’s New Directors, New Films fest.

“All ten artists, each with their singular voice, share a number of factors: they work across genres; they view audiences as participants; they provocatively connect the past to the present to imagine a new future,” Irene Borger, director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, said in a statement.

The awards were created by Alpert and his wife, vocalist Lani Hall, who are founders of the Herb Alpert Foundation, which since 1985 has given away more than $200 million to philanthropic causes.

Each awardee receives $75,000 in unrestricted funds as well as a residency at CalArts, which administers the prize. Notable past recipients of the award include performance artist Taylor Mac, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, and artists Carrie Mae Weems, Kerry James Marshall, Cai Guo-Qiang, Sharon Lockhart and Simone Leigh (the first Black woman to represent the U.S. with a solo pavilion at the Venice Biennale.)

The awards will be officially handed out on Wednesday May 4 during a virtual event starting at 2 pm PT.

Alpert, who turned 87 on March 31, spoke further with The Hollywood Reporter about his current projects, what Sam Cooke taught him and about his upcoming concert tour, after cancelling “a slew of concerts” amid the pandemic. The tour kicks off June 2 in San Diego at Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay and includes a night at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on Dec. 17.

THR also takes a look at the awards finalists.

So you are getting back out on the road this year.

My wife and I are doing 52 concerts this year. In fact, we’re booked through 2023. We’re going to London where we’re playing at Ronnie Scott’s. I’m looking forward to that one. It’s a famous jazz club in London. Everybody has played there — all the greats and near greats. And we had to postpone it twice already. It’s been sold out now for two years.

What is your show like?

It’s very spontaneous even though I do a Tijuana Brass medley and my wife who’s a world-class soloist, she does a a little Brasil ’66 medley and some other songs. It’s kind of tight and loose at the same time. I’ll play the Tijuana Brass medley pretty much the way people would like to hear and outside of that it is pretty spontaneous. It’s not neat and orderly. It is what it is when it happens.

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Herb Alpert

Courtesy of Dewey Nicks

Are you working on a new album?

I had one come out [2021’s Catch the Wind] and I’m at the tail end of another one. That’s what keeps me really functioning right. I just love to make music. I love playing the trumpet. I’ve been doing it since I was 8 and it’s a passion. I don’t do it for any other reason. I’ve become an audience of my own work. I continue on where I can get to that place where it makes me feel good.

I learned through Sam Cooke years and years ago — though he didn’t actually teach me this — it had to feel right and he was very spontaneous. He was very much [about that]. He used to carry a notebook around that had lyrics and every now and then he’d come up to me and say, “What do you think of this lyric?” He showed me this lyric and I thought, “This is the corniest thing I’ve ever seen.” [The lyric was] “The Cokes are in the icebox and blah blah blah,” you know. I didn’t tell him what I was actually feeling. But I said, “What do these songs sound like? What’s the melody?” And he picked up his guitar and started playing this song [“Having a Party”] and I said, “Holy shit” to myself. He transformed these corny lyrics into something that was really magical. Sam was passionate about what he was doing. He was sincere. He was authentic. I’ve learned through the yeas that it ain’t what you do, it’s the way you do it. I think that’s what art is about. People don’t listen with their ears. They listen with their soul and their heart.

Are you finding a new audience for your music today?

It’s amazing — you would think that it’s the blue-haired set that comes to us. It’s the spectrum. I have kids coming up to me and some of my music is on TikTok which is really interesting, because some teenager picked up a song I did on the album Whipped Cream & Other Delights called “Ladyfingers”, which I did 50 years ago. I don’t know if you would call it viral but hundreds of different vignettes were made of this song. So it’s a been a really interesting ride.

“Ladyfingers” is completely instrumental correct?

Yes. What’s kind of unique is that I’m the only artist to have had a number one song as an instrumentalist [1979’s “Rise”, 1965’s “Taste of Honey”, and 1967’s “Casino Royale” and “A Banda”] and as a vocalist [1968’s “This Guy’s In Love With You”]. And that one song [“This Guy’s In Love With You”] I did for a TV show only because the director said, “Why don’t you try singing me a song. I won’t have to photograph you with a trumpet in your mouth all the time.” My good friend Burt Bacharach gave me this fabulous song. I asked him if there was a song that he found himself whistling in the shower and was maybe a song he thought I could handle. He sent me the song. I called Hal David because the lyrics needed to be changed and I did it on the show. Two weeks later, it was number one in the country. People come up to me through the years telling me how much they love it and nine times out of ten, they say, “Well, we got married and we played that song.” I ask, “Are you still married?” And they usually would say, “Not with that creep.” But I made a lot of people happy with that particular song one way or the other.

Interview edited for length and clarity. 

The 10 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts Winners for 2022


Yanira Castro, a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist and choreographer, is at work on a podcast, Last Audience: a performance podcast, to be released ahead of the 2022 midterm elections that will call “listeners into choreographic action, considering transmission of gesture and embodiment as political collective action.”

nia love, a New York City-based choreographer, director and educator, is developing a tour of her multi-media performance installation, UNDERcurrents, in the U.S. and the U.K., starting at WaterWorks Harlem Stage this fall.


Bani Khoshnoudi, a Brookyn- and Mexico City-based filmmaker and artist, has an upcoming exhibit of photography and film at the Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City called El Chinero, un cerro fantasma, about a site in the desert of Baja California where a group of Chinese immigrants died in the early 1900s.

Terence Nance, a Los Angeles-based artist, is working on the second season of his TV series, Random Acts of Flyness, as well as a forthcoming first LP, Vortex.


Tomeka Reid, a Chicago-based cellist, improvisor, composer and organizer, is the 2022 artist in residence for the Moers Jazz Festival and is also curating the 8th annual Chicago Jazz String Summit.

Cory Smythe, an Astoria, New York-based pianist, improviser, and composer, is currently mixing a record of new solo and ensemble music, and is teaching as a part of the Ensemble Evolution faculty at The New School this summer.


Virginia Grice, an Austin-based theater artist, is currently working on a theatrical concert, Riding the Currents of the Wilding Wind, with musical director Martha Gonzalez from the Grammy award winning band Quetzal and a transmedia project rasgos asiáticos.

Aleshea Harris, a Sun Valley, California-based playwright, is working on commissions for Manhattan Theatre Club, the Hermitage Greenfield Prize, Center Theatre Group, Playwrights Horizons and Theatre Royal Haymarket as well as on a performance piece about the need for flight.

Visual Arts

Guadalupe Maravilla, a Brooklyn-based artist and healer, currently has a solo exhibition at MOMA titled Luz y Fuerza, a solo exhibition in Norway at the Henie Onstad Art Center titled Sound Botanico, and a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum titled Tierra Blanca Joven.

Martine Syms, a Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker whose feature debut The African Desperate is the closing night film of New Director New Films at Film at Lincoln Center/MOMA. Her exhibition Neural Swamp opens at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on May 12, followed by the shows Grio College (opening June 25 at the Hessel Museum of Art) and She Mad Season One (opening July 2 at the MCA Chicago).

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