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JANM Congratulates June Kuramoto, 2024 NEA National Heritage Fellow

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) applauds June Kuramoto who is a recipient of the 2024 NEA National Heritage Fellow. Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has presented this award—the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts—to recognize individuals whose dedication and artistry contribute to the growth and preservation of diverse cultural traditions in the US. Each fellowship includes a $25,000 award and the ten recipients will be honored in Washington, D.C. in fall 2024.

Born in Japan and raised in Crenshaw, one of the few Los Angeles neighborhoods where Japanese did not encounter discrimination, Kuramoto grew up on rock ’n’ roll and soul music. Her musical influences inspired her to adapt Gene Chandler’s song, “Duke of Earl” for the koto, a challenge that pushed her to fuse the koto with contemporary music. This led her to establish Hiroshima, a Grammy-nominated Asian American band that blended the sounds of the koto with keyboards, saxophones, drums, guitar, bass, and vocals.

“June not only fulfilled her own dream but became a mentor and role model to so many young women, giving them a sense of pride in their culture and identity. Her contributions to the folk and traditional arts are reflective of JANM’s mission and she continues to give back by performing at community events like the annual Day of Remembrance, teaching seniors, and mentoring upcoming koto artists. Her work has been honored by the City and County of Los Angeles, the State of California, US Congress, and the Smithsonian. June is indeed a living treasure,” said Ann Burroughs, President and CEO of JANM.