Pitt Jazz Studies Director Nicole Mitchell has been named a 2020 United States Artists (USA) Fellow — an honor accompanied by a $50,000 cash award to use as she wishes. She is one of 50 national artists across 10 disciplines to win the award this year.
“I was driving when I got the phone call and became so flustered I had to pull the car over,” Mitchell said with a laugh, recalling the day she received the news.
In making the announcement, USA President and CEO Deanna Haggag said of this year’s fellows: “Each and every one of them stands out as a visionary influence in their respective field.”
Mitchell took up the position of Jazz Studies director in July 2019.
She is a member of the We Have Voice Collective, a national group of musicians, performers and scholars who draw attention to inequity in the music industry.
As far as the USA award, Mitchell is thinking about helping emerging artists.
“I feel really humbled by this and want to use it to make impact,” she said. “My dream would be to use part of it to create a new grant program for artists who are just at the edge of doing great things.”