National Medal of Arts Recipient
As the nation honored jazz great Lionel Hampton during his centennial birth year in 2008, the White House gave accolades to Hampton’s jazz and education legacy – a legacy that endures in the seemingly unlikely locale of Moscow, Idaho. The University of Idaho Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival received the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s most prestigious arts award, from President George W. Bush.
Former university President Timothy P. White and festival Artistic Director John Clayton accepted the medal in a White House ceremony.
“This recognition affirms the vision shared by Lionel Hampton and the university about the power of jazz and education to bridge cultures, inspire creativity and develop the musical leadership abilities of the next generation of jazz leaders,” White said.
Hampton envisioned more than an annual gathering of the world's top jazz musicians in the heart of winter in a small university town. He had a bigger dream — investing in future generations to perpetuate jazz as an art form and providing young students with a great introduction to a uniquely American style of music.
In 1985, the festival was renamed the Lionel Hampton/Chevron Festival in his honor, and rededicated as the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in 2006. Hampton died in 2002 at age 94.