Alliance for California Traditional Arts
June 23, 2021

Congratulations to the beloved California artists honored this year with the 2021 National Heritage Fellowship  from the National Endowment for the Arts: Philippine Rondalla master Tagumpay de Leon of Burbank and Mexican-American rock band Los Lobos of Los Angeles!

The NEA’s National Heritage Fellowship is our nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. These lifetime honor awards highlight the “breadth and excellence of the artistic traditions found in communities all across the United States.” We are excited to see cultural leaders of California honored this year.

“We are thrilled to see the unique legacies of Tagumpay Mendoza De Leon and Los Lobos recognized as National Heritage Fellows by the NEA,” said Amy Kitchener, Executive Director of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts.

“These California awardees have made seminal contributions in their musical genres of Filipinx Rondalla and Chicanx Rock—to interpret, innovate and expand the traditional musical heritage of California and the nation.”

Tagumpay Mendoza De Leon

Photo by Steve Walag.
Rondalla Artist from Burbank, California

Rondalla, the traditional string ensemble of the Philippines, often provides the music for Philippine folk dances and is prominent in community celebrations like fiestas, weddings, and other civic and social events serving the Filipino-American community.  Coming from a prominent musical family in the Philippines, where he and his brothers and sisters formed the De Leon RondallaTagumpay de Leon is now deeply involved in the Filipino-American community of Los Angeles where he plays rondalla music with the Fil-Am Family Cultural Group.

“Having been involved with the Philippine cultural scene since my childhood days in the Philippines, I have been deeply attached to the beautiful sounds of rondalla music.  It is very important for the Filipino-American community to be constantly reminded of their culture and where they came from and one way I can accomplish this is to let them hear the beauty of their own music by listening to the rondalla.”

In 2002, Tagumpay was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program with apprentice Patrick Tanega, who has been playing in the same group with the Tagumpay since 1990.  The apprenticeship focused on increasing Patrick’s repertoire across all instruments of the ensemble.

Learn more about Tagumpay


Los Lobos

Photo by Piero F. Giunti.
MExican-American Band from Los angeles, California

Los Lobos have defined the East Los Angeles sonic landscape for nearly a half-century. Formed in 1973 by guitarist/accordionist David Hidalgo and percussionist and lyricist Louie Perez, their joint eclectic musical interests led them to recruit two other students from Garfield High School. Guitarist Cesar Rosas and bassist Conrad Lozano joined and they decided to call themselves Los Lobos del Este. As young, music-loving Chicanos from the barrio, they were a product of their surroundings, applying African-American influences such as the blues, rock n roll, jazz, and doo–wop, as a natural complement to the deep and soulful Mexican and Latin American sounds they had grown up with, such as the bolero, rancheras, music Norteña, son jarocho, son huasteco, and cumbias, to give birth to their unique sound. The wildly successful soundtrack of “La Bamba” (1985) catapulted Los Lobos into international stardom, earning them industry recognition and a Grammy Award. Los Lobos has carried the torch of Chicano music into the present and has amassed a body of work that will be cherished, studied, and emulated for many years to come.

Learn more about Los Lobos

“The diverse art forms of the National Heritage Fellows allow us to experience and appreciate the rich cultural traditions that make up America,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts. “It is inspiring how these artistic practices continue the legacy of generations past, while blending contemporary elements as they continue into the future.”

Learn more about all the 2021 National Heritage Fellows here.

2021 NEA National Heritage Fellows (clockwise from top left): Cedric Burnside (photo by Stephen Payne), Tom Davenport (photo by Bruce Jackson), Tagumpay De Leon (photo courtesy of the artist), Anita Fields (photo by Tom Fields), Los Lobos (photo by Piero F. Giunti), Winnsboro Easter Rock Ensemble (photo by Peter Jones), Nellie Vera Sánchez (photo by Sandra I. Rodríguez), Reginald “Reggio The Hoofer” McLaughlin (photo courtesy of the artist), Joanie Madden (photo courtesy of the artist).

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