Awarded: September 2009
(b. March 16, 1938)
Joseph T. “Joe” Wilson grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of Tennessee, where he was profoundly influenced by the traditional music of that region. He is a folklorist and served as the executive director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) (external link) from 1976 to 2004. He now serves as chairman of NCTA and also manages NCTA's Blue Ridge Music Center. In his career, he has produced 42 large-scale music festivals in 11 states, 21 national tours by musicians and dancers, nine international tours that visited 33 nations, and 131 LP and CD audio recordings of various forms of folk music. With Lee Udall, he co-wrote the book “Folk Festivals: A Handbook for Organization and Management.” He has also been involved in the production of 12 films. In 2001, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded a National Heritage Fellowship to Wilson.