Hawaiian slack-key master Cyril Pahinui was honored in Washington, D.C., last week as a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow.
Pahinui’s wife, Chelle Pahinui, accepted the award on his behalf Sept. 14 at the Library of Congress. Slack-key guitarists Jeff Peterson and Sean Robbins represented him at the NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert on Friday at George Washington University. Pahinui has been in ill health.
NEA National Heritage Fellowships are the federal government’s highest honor for accomplishments in folk and traditional arts. Nine honorees are recognized each year. This year’s other honorees are Armenian repoussé metal artist Norik Astvatsaturov, Chilikat weaver Anna Brown Ehlers, Puerto Rican bomba and plena musician Modesto Cepeda, children’s folk singer and musician Ella Jenkins, Danish button accordionist and Missouri-style fiddler Dwight Lamb, old-time buckdancer Thomas Maupin, acoustic blues harmonica player Phil Wiggins and conjunto accordionist and bandleader Eva Ybarra.
Previous honorees from Hawaii include Genoa Keawe (2000), Ka‘upena Wong (2005), George Na‘ope (2006), Eddie Kamae (2007) and Ledward Kaapana (2011).