At 85-years-old, jazz great and North Carolina A&T State University alumnus Lou Donaldson is still playing music and earning acclaim.
On Oct. 30, Donaldson will receive the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts for his contributions to jazz music during a gala and awards ceremony at the North Carolina Museum of History.
The North Carolina Award is the highest civilian honor the state can bestow. The awards recognize North Carolinians’ lifetime achievements in literature, science, the fine arts and public service.
Donaldson is a native of Badin. In 1945, he was drafted into the Navy, where he played with the Great Lakes Navy Band. In the 1950s, he recorded with Horace Silver, Donald Byrd and Curtis Fuller. He has also played with Art Blakey, Milt Jackson, Clark Terry and on the milestone live recording, “A Night at Birdland.”
His most successful albums are “Blues Walk,” “Lush Life” and “Alligator Bugaloo.” Donaldson has toured in the U.S., Europe and Japan. In 1996, he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame.
In July, Donaldson was announced as 2013 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship is the highest honor bestowed upon jazz artists in the United States. Each year since 1982, the program has elevated to its ranks a select number of living legends who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz. Donaldson joins the ranks of Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and Herbie Hancock.