Jazz Trumpeter Ray Vega Wins 2021 Herb Lockwood Prize | Live Culture

Jazz Trumpeter Ray Vega Wins 2021 Herb Lockwood Prize


Ray Vega at Hotel Vermont - COURTESY OF SETH CASHMAN
  • Courtesy of Seth Cashman
  • Ray Vega at Hotel Vermont
Trumpeter, educator and radio host Ray Vega has won the 2021 Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts. The annual award "aims to reward the pinnacle of arts leadership in Vermont by honoring the most influential artists," according to a press release announcing Vega's win.

Recent recipients include dancer/choreographer Hannah Dennison, musician/DJ Robert Resnik and Bread and Puppet Theater founder Peter Schumann. Vega received the award in a ceremony at the BCA Center in Burlington on Wednesday.

Vega told Seven Days that he was surprised when he found out about his win — he had no idea he was even in contention.

"I didn't know anything about it," Vega said during a recent call. "It just came out of the clear blue."

The 2021 Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts - COURTESY OF THE HERB LOCKWOOD PRIZE IN THE ARTS
  • Courtesy of the Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts
  • The 2021 Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts
Presented by Herb's brother, Todd Lockwood, and Burlington City Arts, the award was first given in 2014, and comes with a $10,000 cash prize. Before his death in 1988, Herb Lockwood was a popular Vermont musician, artist and all-around creative polymath.

Vega is a senior lecturer at the University of Vermont, specializing in jazz history and performance. In 2018, he began hosting the weekly program Friday Night Jazz on Vermont Public Radio.

Before moving to Vermont in 2008, Vega was a mainstay on the New York City jazz scene, particularly in Latin jazz circles.  He worked closely with a number of major players, including Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaría and Tito Puente.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Vega's infectious energy and high-spirited performances are well known in Burlington. He currently hosts a bi-monthly gig at Hotel Vermont.

As noted in a press release, Vega recently headlined a block party at the 2021 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, where he incited a conga line in which "hundreds of people joined in," making it "probably the largest conga line in Vermont history."

Vega said that he'll use the prize money to support ongoing care for his son, who has autism. Unrelated to winning the prize, he said that he'll soon travel to Seattle's Bellevue Jazz & Blues Music Festival in October to record and perform.

"The possibility of doing some stuff related to music [with the prize money] — it's there," Vega said. "I am thinking about that. But that's not the first thing on the list for me."

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