Clothier Manuel To Receive Nation’s Highest Folk Arts Honor

Photo by Yuri Figueroa

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the newest recipients of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships, and Nashville tailor Manuel Cuevas is among the recipients. Awarded annually by the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA National Heritage Fellowships highlight the breadth and excellence of the artistic traditions found in communities all across the U.S.

Known for his rhinestone-adorned, embroidered suits that were indispensable for country and western stars, Manuel has clothed everyone from Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash, and James Dean to John Wayne. His clothes have earned exhibitions at the Frist Art Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum, and are displayed extensively at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The 2018 recipients will receive a $25,000 award and be honored in Washington, D.C. at an awards ceremony on Sept. 26 and at a free concert at Sidney Harman Hall on Sept. 28, which will be streamed live at

The 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows are:

  • Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim (Milwaukie, OR)—Palestinian embroiderer
  • Eddie Bond (Fries, VA)—Appalachian old-time fiddler
  • Kelly Church (Allegan, MI)—Anishinabe (Gun Lake Band) black ash basketmaker
  • Marion Coleman (Castro Valley, CA)—African-American quilter
  • Manuel Cuevas (Nashville, TN)—tailor
  • Ofelia Esparza (Los Angeles, CA)—Chicana altarista (Day of the Dead altar maker)
  • Barbara Lynn (Beaumont, TX)—R&B musician
  • Don & Cindy Roy (Gorham, ME)—Franco-American musicians
  • Ethel Raim (New York, NY)—traditional music and dance advocate

In addition to their artistic value, each of the Heritage Fellows’ art forms also reflects the community they come from and the history of the tradition, whether it’s a material art form such as Manuel’s iconic suits and the patterns of Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim’s embroidery or a musical art form like Don and Cindy Roy’s Franco-American music.

“The 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows have dedicated their lives to mastering these distinctive art forms and sharing them with new audiences both within their communities and nationwide,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts. “We look forward to celebrating them and their incredible artistic accomplishments this fall.”



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About the Author

Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at [email protected]

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