Jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson awarded 2019 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant

The acclaimed improviser will receive $625,000, disbursed over five years.

Mary Halvorson 2019 MacArthur genius grant foundation
Image: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Guitarist, composer and improviser Mary Halvorson has been named a 2019 MacArthur Fellow, receiving the $625,000 award known informally as the ‘Genius’ Grant.

As one of the 26 chosen fellows, who run the gamut from lawyers to philosophers to geophysicists, the Boston-raised, New York-based artist will receive from the MacArthur Foundation a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 to be disbursed over a period of five years.

“I’ve always played guitar with a strong attack,” Halvorson says in a new video produced by the MacArthur Foundation, “and I’ve always valued the physicality of the instrument, and really being able to hear the wood and the resonance.”

Learn about Halvorson’s creative process, her experience as a female guitarist in the jazz world and more in the video below:

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Halvorson’s last releases were a joint album with Robbie Lee titled Seed Triangular, released September 2018, and a double album Code Girl in April 2018. Next month, she will release A Tangle Of Stars, a record made in collaboration with Deerhoof’s John Dieterich. She is also working on a second album with her Code Girl collaborators.

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