CHICAGO (CelebrityAccess) — Guitarist, ensemble leader, and composer Mary Halvorson has been named as a 2019 MacArthur Fellow and this year’s only musical recipient of the foundation’s $625,000 ‘genius’ grant.
The MacArthur Foundation recognized Halvorson for her distinctive “percussive picking style” and her melding of “elements of experimental rock, folk, and other musical traditions, reflecting a wide range of stylistic influences.”
Halvorson, who performs both as a solo artist and with ensembles, has graced the stages at the Kennedy Center, Newport Folk Festival, Berlin Jazz Festival, and the Village Vanguard.
She released her debut album as a bandleader, “Dragon’s Head,” in 2008. The album features her original compositions written for a trio of guitar, string bass, and drums.
More recently, she released “On Away with You” (2016) which includes a brass section, a pedal steel guitar, and “Code Girl” (2018) which features original music she composed for a quintet that includes her longtime, three-player collective, Thumbscrew, joined by a vocalist and trumpeter.
Her additional albums as a solo performer or leader include Saturn Sings (2010), Bending Bridges (2012), Illusionary Sea (2014), and Meltframe (2015), and she has performed on numerous other recordings as a side musician or co-leader.
Halvorson was one of 26 people named as a Macarthur Fellow in 2019. Other recipients include Vietnamese-American novelist Ocean Vuong, literary scholar Saidiya Hartman, visual artist Jeffrey Gibson, and paleoclimatologist Andrea Dutton.