The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the recipients of the 2022 National Heritage Fellowships! These Fellowships are the highest honor given to traditional artists in America and are only given to grandmasters in a given tradition. It’s a great honor for Richmond, Virginia gospel group The Legendary Ingramettes to receive a National Heritage Fellowship and richly deserved.
With six decades of legacy behind them, and a powerful history of faith and activism throughout the civil rights movement up to the present day, few groups can claim the kind of heritage that the Ingramettes have.
When I received the phone call that I and my family had been selected as one of the 2022 recipients of the National Heritage Fellowship, I immediately thought about my mother, She taught us as children to always be thankful to God for every opportunity and every challenge. She said the challenges would prepare us for the opportunities.
She never imagined that the opportunities to serve humanity would provide such an honor as this. As I reflect on the last 6 decades with the Legendary Ingramettes, each precious memory is an individual strand that has been woven into a three-fold cord that scripture says ‘is not easily broken’.
It took a loving and compassionate God to create a woman and her five children who would grow to be the instrument that would draw others of diverse cultures to marvel at His work. We are humbled and deeply appreciative to receive this honor.Rev. Almeta Ingram-Miller
Jon Lohman, Virginia folklorist and Director of the Center for Cultural Vibrancy, nominated The Legendary Ingramettes and produced their acclaimed 2020 album, Take A Look in the Book. “To me,” Lohman says, “The Legendary Ingramettes perfectly embody the very essence of this honor, combining lifelong artistic mastery with deep and dedicated service to their community. They are nothing short of icons in the city, an inspiring force to anyone who has been fortunate to witness them perform, and a blessing to us all.”
The Legendary Ingramettes represent sixty-seven years of gospel music, founded in their unique approach to Black gospel quartets from a matriarchal perspective. Founded by Maggie Ingram (who passed away in 2015), Rev. Almeta Ingram-Miller continues her mother’s legacy today, expanding on a new vision for gospel. Their 2020 album, Take A Look in the Book, featured a transcendent version of Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” that Ingram-Miller wrote new verses for about her own grandmother, who picked cotton until her fingers bled.