On April 5, 2016, the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation approved the awarding of 175 Guggenheim Fellowships (including three joint Fellowships) to a diverse group of 178 scholars, artists, and scientists. Among the recipients was Smithsonian Folkways Director and Curator Dr. Daniel Sheehy. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of nearly 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s 92nd competition. Sheehy was recognized in the humanities field for his study of Folklore and Popular Culture, and his fellowship project is entitled The Son Jarocho of Veracruz, Mexico: Sound, Significance, and Sustainability. Son Jarocho is an improvisational, string-driven music from the Gulf Coast of Mexico that has experienced a resurgence in recent years.
Edward Hirsch, president of the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, said of the Fellows Class of 2016, “It’s exciting to name 178 new Guggenheim Fellows. These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”
Dr. Daniel Sheehy has been the Director and Curator of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings since 2000. He concurrently served as Director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (2009–2013) and Acting Director of the Smithsonian Latino Center (2008–2009). As Director of Folk & Traditional Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts (1992–2000) and staff ethnomusicologist and Assistant Director (1978–1992), Sheehy directed the National Heritage Fellowship awards and grants programs of $4 million annually. A Fulbright-Hays scholar in Veracruz, Mexico (1977–78), he earned his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from UCLA (1979). He served as co-editor with Dale Olsen of the South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean volume of the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. His book Mariachi Music in America: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture was published by Oxford University Press in 2006. Under his leadership, Smithsonian Folkways has published more than 200 recordings, earning five Grammy awards, one Latin Grammy, and twenty-five nominations. Sheehy currently serves as President of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, board member of the National Council for the Traditional Arts and the Association for Cultural Equity, and past board member of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the American Folklore Society. The American Folklore Society honored him with the 1997 Benjamin A. Botkin Prize, recognizing an awardee’s major impact on the field of public folklore, and the 2010 Américo Paredes Prize, recognizing a career of excellence in integrating scholarship and engagement with the people and communities one studies. In 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship.