McKnight Fellowships

MacPhail Center for Music is proud to be the administrative home for McKnight Fellowships for Musicians

Founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists and culture bearers thrive, the McKnight Foundation’s arts and culture program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Support for individual working Minnesota artists and culture bearers has been a cornerstone of the program since it began in 1982. The McKnight Artist & Culture Bearer Fellowships Program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in 15 different creative disciplines. Program partner organizations administer the fellowships and structure them to respond to the unique challenges of different disciplines. Currently, the foundation contributes about $2.8 million per year to its statewide fellowships. For more information, visit

McKnight Fellowships for Musicians are intended to recognize and support mid-career musicians living and working in Minnesota who demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, artistic excellence, a distinctive musical voice, and a significant performing career over a period of time. The program’s musicians are committed to honoring the breadth of Minnesota musicians of all genres; aesthetically, geographically, and culturally. If you are a performing musician in any genre, MacPhail Center for Music invites you to apply for a McKnight Fellowship for Musicians.

Applications for the 2025 McKnight Fellowships for Musicians will open in late Fall of 2024

Get more information on how to apply, view eligibility requirements, or meet the fellows from previous years.

About the McKnight Fellowships for Musicians

With the generous support of the McKnight Foundation, MacPhail awards four $25,000 fellowships to outstanding and distinctive mid-career solo artists or small ensembles/bands. A McKnight Fellowship in Music can help an artist set aside periods of time for study, reflection, experimentation, and exploration; take advantage of an opportunity, or work on a new project. Ensembles/bands recognized as finalists and/or fellowship recipients will split awards between members; individual ensemble/band members will not each receive the full award amount. Awards are subject to state and federal income tax guidelines.

New Application Process for 2024:
The application process has been revised to require only the materials necessary for the first round to be submitted by January 22, 2024, at 3 pm CST. If applicants are invited to move forward for consideration in the second round, representation of a full breadth of work will be required as in previous years. Full details on the revised process can be found in the guidelines.

January 22nd – Deadline to submit four-minute work sample for consideration in Round 1
February 29th – Notification regarding advancement to Round 2
March 28th – Deadline for selected applicants to submit additional work samples, live performance video, artist statement, and resume for consideration during Round 2
May 10th – Notification regarding advancement to finals
June 7th – In person final auditions held for 9 finalists

Application Deadline: 
Monday, January 22, 2024
3:00 p.m. CST

You will not be able to upload files after 3 pm CST on January 22, 2024. At that time the system immediately stops accepting applications, even if you are in the middle of working on it.

Start your application early. Please plan to make sure your system is compatible with the application process, your submitted materials are correct and functional and you understand how the system works. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. 

When creating your profile please uncheck the box to make your profile discoverable.  You do not need to have a discoverable profile.  If you already have an account, turn this off by clicking on the “Discover Me” tab and then changing the “Discoverable” button to red.

Communication to you regarding the status of your application will be sent through Acceptd. If you choose to turn off email notifications please remember to log in to the system to check on the status of your application.

Information Session:
Lindsay Lewis, McKnight Musician Fellowship Administrator, and a representative from Springboard for the Arts, conducted an information session via Zoom on January 7th from 2:30pm-4:30pm to go over the application process, both its content and technical aspects.

Welcome to the McKnight Artist Fellowships community! The McKnight Foundation and the administering partners for the McKnight Artist & Culture Bearer Fellowships committed to creating and supporting an artistic community in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. The community of the McKnight Artist & Culture Bearer Fellowships includes people who engage with the fellowships program whether as applicants, fellows, panelists, contractors, collaborators, fellowships administrators, and staff of the McKnight Foundation and partnering organizations. As a community, we commit to creating and maintaining relationships that are free from harm, prejudice, and harassment. Community members agree to communicate directly and transparently regarding issues of conduct that could negatively impact the well-being of participating members and organizations. In the case of an accusation, legal action, or conviction, the McKnight Foundation and its fellowship program partners may gather and assess relevant information. If deemed necessary, the McKnight Foundation and its fellowship program partners may take administrative action up to and including the recommendation of participation in reconciliation or restorative justice processes; disqualification of an application; the termination of a contract; and the recall and/or termination of a fellowship. This community will be what we make it and our aim is to collectively create an experience in which all artists and members of the McKnight Artist & Culture Bearer Fellowships community thrive. 

A four-member panel consisting of experienced and well-respected music professionals selects the McKnight Musician Fellows. The panel members are performing musicians, producers, composers, directors, and educators with an appreciation for and knowledge of a diverse range of musical styles and genres. All panelists are from outside the state of Minnesota. Panelists, insofar as possible, represent a diversity of age, ethnicity, gender, and geography.

The McKnight Fellowships for Musicians panelists remain anonymous during the selection process.

Applicants are evaluated and selected based on the quality of their work as evidenced in submitted materials, most importantly work samples. Distinctive musical voice, exceptional artistic merit and the content of the artist statement will be considered during the selection process.

Consideration is given to accomplishments to date as well as promise for continued development and the impact the fellowship will have on the artist. The panel will also be asked to consider the breadth of artistic practices among Minnesota musicians, which include a wide range of styles and genres, which may be influenced by ethnicity, gender, and geography.

Solo artists and ensembles/bands in all styles compete together.

Panelists will review the tracks submitted as a part of Work Sample A. The panel will choose approximately one-third of the applications to advance to the second round.  Panelists are not given the names of applicants in the first round.  Applicants will be notified about their application status via Acceptd the week of February 29th.  If selected to advance, applicants will be required to submit materials to be considered during the second round including additional work samples, a resume and artist statement by March 28th.

The panelists will review the tracks submitted as a part of Work Sample A & Work Sample B, the live performance video, résumés and artist statements.  After making individual selections from the full list of second round applicants, panelist will meet via conference call to discuss the applicants who are of greatest interest to them.  Nine solo artists/bands/ensembles will be selected to perform in the final auditions.  Applicants will be notified about their application status via Acceptd the week of May 10th.

Finalist Auditions:

Finalists are invited to perform for the panel at MacPhail Center for Music on Friday, June 7, 2024.  

All finalists must be present to be considered for a fellowship on June 7th – no exceptions.

Finalists receive a $1,000 honorarium for their performance; for fellowship recipients, the honorarium is considered part of the $25,000 award.

Finalists present a live performance of no longer than 20 minutes; panelists have up to an additional 15 minutes to ask questions of and talk with each artist/band/ensemble.

Panelists consider the performance and conversation with finalists alongside previously submitted materials in selecting four solo artist/band/ensemble fellowship recipients.

Finalists are not required to perform works from their online submissions at the final audition. 

Performance times are scheduled by lottery.

Finalists are notified of the judges’ decision by phone no later than 9:30 p.m. on June 7th.


Please read carefully. Applicants who do not meet the following criteria and expectations will not be considered and should not apply.

The intent of this program is to recognize and support midcareer artists living and working in Minnesota who demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and artistic excellence. Artists who are eligible for these fellowships:

  • Have or maintain MN residency for at least one year before application and for the fellowship year.
  • Are beyond emerging with a body of work that demonstrates a sustained level of accomplishment and commitment to an artistic practice.
  • Can only apply to one McKnight Artist & Culture Bearer Fellowship in any artistic discipline within a year.
  • Can only apply as a solo artist or an ensemble/band member within a year.
  • Have not been a recipient of a McKnight Artist & Culture Bearer Fellowship within any artistic discipline in the last five award years.  Recipients of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 & 2023 McKnight fellowships in any discipline are not eligible.
  • Demonstrate growth and ongoing artistry since their most recent McKnight Artist & Culture Bearer Fellowship.
  • Are not staff, board, or immediate family of the McKnight Foundation or fellowship administrative partners.  (Independent contractors and faculty are not considered staff and are therefore eligible to apply).
  • Are not enrolled full-time in an academic program.


  • Have performed together for three or more years with the same members and name as stated on the application.
  • Be made up of no more than five members.
  • Be an active ensemble/band, having at least four significant performances in each of the last three years. If the pandemic prevented your ensemble from performing four times in 2021, 2022, or 2023 please contact Lindsay Lewis to discuss your eligibility.

Application Guidelines & Requirements

You must provide live or studio recordings, totaling 24 minutes of material, made in the last four years. Recordings should represent your highest quality, best work. Bands/ensembles must submit recordings that feature all band/ensemble members listed on the application. Recordings of solo artists and bands/ensembles can include accompaniment. However, the panelists should be able to easily identify and listen to the performance of the applicant. Panelists will have the knowledge of the instrument being performed. Do not include any introductory spoken commentary on your recordings.

Time requirement: 4 minutes or less

Work Sample A should include one or more of the solo artists’ or ensembles’/bands’ works, which when added together, do not exceed a combined total of four minutes. Fading in or fading out a recording is acceptable to avoid exceeding the time allotted. Work Sample A is the only material reviewed by the panelists in the first round.

Time requirement: 20 minutes or less

Work Sample B must contain two or more additional works, which when added together, do not exceed a combined total of 20 minutes in length. Fading in or fading out of a piece of music is acceptable to avoid exceeding time allotted. The panelists will listen to Work Sample A and Work Sample B of all applicants who advance to the second round.

Applicants will be disqualified from the competition if the total time of all works included in Work Sample A exceeds 4 minutes or in Work Sample B exceeds 20 minutes.

It is recommended that all works be uploaded as individual tracks so that panelists may easily advance through the applicant’s recordings.

Applicants must submit a supplementary page listing the names of the works and composers submitted on Work Sample A & B to be submitted as a PDF.

Upload a video of a live performance no longer than five minutes, made in the last four years.  The video does not have to be in front of a live audience but must be unprocessed.  The audio must be from the same take as the image.  Clips from different recordings may be put together into one video to total up to five minutes. The video may or may not include songs performed in your Work Sample A & B recordings. Bands/ensembles must submit recordings that feature all band/ensemble members listed on the application. Recordings of solo artists and bands/ensembles can include accompaniment. However, the panelists should be able to easily identify and listen to the performance of the applicant. 

An artist statement no longer than 500 words.  Please type your artist statement in a word document and save it as a pdf to upload it to your application.

Your artist statement might address the following: 

  • What is your background as a performing musician?
  • How would you describe your distinctive musical voice?
  • What do you see as the future of your art form and how does your work contribute to that?
  • On the spectrum of cultural advocacy from allyhood to cultural appropriation, where does your music lie?
  • What are you doing as a performing musician that isn’t already being done?
  • What is next for you as an artist?

If you are a previous McKnight Fellowship for Musicians recipient please answer the following question: 

  • How has your work developed since your last award?

2-pages or less and be submitted as a PDF.

Submit a current résumé pertaining to the solo artist’s or band’s/ensemble’s music career that highlights your professional accomplishments and achievements including performances, recordings, awards and grants. Band/ensemble résumés should include at least 12 significant performances (4 per year) from the 3 years prior to the application deadline.  Given the constraints caused by the pandemic, if the ensemble has fewer than 3 performances in 2021, 2022 or 2023, the application will still be considered. If you had performances scheduled during 2021, 2022 or 2023 that were cancelled, please feel free to list those on your resume and indicate that they were cancelled.

At the top of your résumé please include each applicants name (up to 5 for bands/ensembles), the solo artist’s/band’s/ensemble’s name, and corresponding instrument/s.

Résumés may not include: email addresses, website addresses, quotes or reviews, pictures, photographs, cover letters, or letters of recommendation.

Clearly legible copy of a driver’s license for each applicant or other proof of legal

Minnesota residency to be submitted as a PDF.

Past McKnight Musician Fellows

The Lioness (Shaiwna Adams), Vocalist, Hip Hop, Minneapolis The Lioness is a native of North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having started her hip-hop career 19 years ago, she has inevitably become one of the Twin Cities’ premier homegrown artists. The conscious lyricist speaks to the souls of marginalized populations by addressing issues of racial inequalities and social justice, in efforts to encourage and empower Black bodies, bodies of culture, queer bodies, and women across the country.

The Lioness’s solo projects include: The Most Anticipated (2011); Lost Tapes (2012); Queen (2013); Growing Pains (2016); Greater Vision (2018) and her latest, gemINI (2021).

Taking her passion and skills to a broader audience, The Lioness has completed six national and two international tours. With her rapidly growing fanbase and mission to encourage and inspire, it is only a matter of time before she becomes a global headliner.

Rascal Miles, Voice, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Bass Guitar, Drum Set, Mandolin, Cello, Banjo, Percussion, Glockenspiel, Piano, Keyboards, Synths, Trombone, Soundscapes, Digital Audio Workstations Indie Art Rock; Minneapolis Rascal Miles (he/they) is a songwriter, one-man-band and multi-disciplinary artist based in Minneapolis whose work always revolves around three things: sound, storytelling, and emotion. To talk about Miles’ music, think Radiohead’s creativity meets Andrew Bird’s curiosity, but with a healthy dose of tender authenticity that only an underdog could know.

Originally from a small town in Florida, Miles spent over a decade growing roots in the indie, folk & DIY punk scenes in the Pacific Northwest, recording in friends’ living rooms and touring the West Coast, both solo and in other bands. When the pandemic hit, Miles was 6-months-sober, had recently come out as trans and had top surgery, lost his job, and was living alone in a tiny basement studio, events which together became the perfect storm for Miles to dive headfirst into audio engineering and write his self recorded (including full instrumentation), debut full-length album Tailor-Made. Fueled by the fundamental truth that representation in art and media create the change we want to see in the world, each song on the record is a chronological chapter of his trans experience throughout his life.

His story has gone on to earn the stamp of approval from NPR Music, including a special feature by indie icon Phoebe Bridgers, to award him two Make|Learn|Build grants from the Regional Arts & Culture Council, and to provide performance opportunities with queer musical heroes such as Chris Pureka and Esmé Patterson. Miles continues to craft his songs from the perspective of misunderstood characters, like the monsters in his 80’s New Wave-inspired Halloween EP Songs for the Graveyard, as well as the robot surviving the human apocalypse in his upcoming dystopian (more-electronically-focused) concept album. As a highly sensitive, neurodiverse sound nerd with ADHD, Miles is always exploring new ways to manipulate sounds and build worlds for his characters, often blurring lines between genres, learning new techniques for sound design and production, adventuring on nature trips to collect textural field recordings, designing plugins to use while recording, implementing the element of chance into his writing process, searching for what is lingering in the air but isn’t being said, and then saying it with his distinctive musical voice.

EVV (Evelyn Speers), Lead Vocals/Lead Guitar, Blues, Metal, Indie, Jazz, Rock, Minneapolis EVV is a Minneapolis-based musician that refuses to claim a genre. Drawing influences from Blues, Jazz, Metal, and rock, the solo project of Ev Speers is one that is years in the making. With each song, EVV sings about heartbreak and their experiences as a black femme in today’s society. EVV hopes to inspire young black folks to pursue the art that inspires them, and to let their voices be heard.

Ann DuHamel, piano, classical, Morris Praised as poetic and “… a delight for the ears and the soul” (Encuentro Universitario Internacional de Saxofón, Mexico City), pianist Ann DuHamel delights in a multi-dimensional and eclectic musical career. Her performances have spanned 18 countries and 37 of the United States, including Carnegie
Weill Recital Hall. 

Hailed as a “forward thinking classical pianist” (Midwest Record) and applauded for “the depth of programming and playing” (Piano Magazine) for her debut album Rückblick (Furious Artisans, 2020), Ann actively champions contemporary composers, commissioning all of the works for this release. She can also be heard on Tyler Kline: Orchard (Neuma Records, 2022); Fanfare Magazine praised her performance as “alive … [played with] aching expression.”

Tracks from Rückblick and Orchard have been featured on radio stations across the U.S. Ann’s project “Prayers for a Feverish Planet” responds to the climate crisis with 60+ new works from composers around the world. In the spirit of eco-artivism, the program asks urgent questions of the listener: how can we live more mindfully as global citizens? How can we use our artistic talents to make a difference?

Featured in interviews on Modern Notebook Radio (WSMR) and Minnesota Public Radio’s All Things Considered with Tom Crann, Ann has been awarded artist residencies at Tofte Lake Center (MN) and Everwood Farmstead Foundation (WI), in addition to grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Lake Region Arts Council, and the University of Minnesota. She currently serves as Associate Professor of Music at the University of Minnesota Morris, where she devotes herself to the mission of sharing high quality traditional and contemporary classical music with students and
the greater community. She is Immediate Past President of the Minnesota Music Teachers Association.

Jaye Sinkfield, aka DIVAJ
—Rapper, Hip-Hop, Saint Paul
Rebecca Merblum, Cello—Classical, Minneapolis
Lewis McCaleb aka Lewiee Blaze, Voice & Piano, Hip-Hop, Minneapolis
Paula Gudmundson, Flute—Classical, Vadnais Heights

Fode Bangoura, Djembe, West African Percussion, Brooklyn Park
Chastity Brown, Voice, Blues & Singer-Songwriter, Minneapolis
Chad Heslup aka Longshot, Vocals—Hip Hop, Minneapolis
Catherine Ramirez, Flute—Classical, Northfield

José A. Zayas Cabán, saxophone—new/classical, Minneapolis
PaviElle French, voice—soul, Columbia Heights
Diane Miller, a.k.a. D Mills, voice—Hip-Hop, folk, alternative, rock, Minneapolis
Kirsten Whitson, cello—classical, St. Paul

Sedra Bistodeau, 
violin and fiddle, Princeton
Gao Hong, traditional Chinese music, Northfield
Maria Isa, Afro-Latin hip-hop, St. Paul
Will Johnson (W/ILLS), post genre, St. Paul

Jonatha Brooke, singer-songwriter, Minneapolis
Kill the Vultureship-hop artists, Minneapolis
MaLLyhip-hop artist, Minneapolis
Clara Osowskivocalist (mezzo-soprano), Brooklyn Center

Tonia Hughes, 
voice, Minneapolis
Aida Shahghasemi, voice and composition, Minneapolis
Carrie Henneman Shaw, voice, Saint Paul
Tim Sparks, guitar, Burnsville

Francesca Anderegg – 
Javier Santiago – jazz
Pooja Pavan
 – composer Tracey Engleman – voice

Atlantis Quartet 
– Zacc Harris, guitar; Brandon Wozniak, tenor saxophone; Chris Bates, double bass; Pete Hennig, drums
Troy King (King Fuvi), emcee and songwriter
Pat O’Keefe, clarinet and bass clarinet
Wilhelmina Smith, cellist

Danami Maurice Champion, songwriter, musician; from St. Paul
Ignacio Nachito Herrera, pianist, arranger and musical director; from White Bear Lake
Siama Matuzungidi, guitar; from Minneapolis
Jacqueline Ultan, cellist, composer; from Minneapolis

Haley Bonar, voice, guitar, piano, keyboard, from St. Paul
Cléa Galhano, recorder, from St. Paul
Paul Metzger, banjo, from St. Paul
Maiya Papach, viola, from St. Paul

Christopher Atzinger, piano, from Dundas
Gao Hong, pipa, from Northfield
Laura MacKenzie, flutes/pipes/whistles/concertina/voice, from Northfield
Karen Mueller, autoharp, from Minneapolis

Orkestar Bez Ime, Colleen Bertsch, violin/vocals; Dee Langley, accordion/vocals; Katrina Mundinger, clarinet/percussion/vocals; Natalie Nowytski, vocals/percussion
The Roe Family Singers, Quillan and Kim Roe
John Snow, oboe
Noah Hoehn, harmonic/marimba/voice/percussion

Bryan Nichols, pianist
Nirmala Rajasekar, veena player
Parker Quartet, Daniel Chong, violin; Karen Kim, violin; Jessica Bodner, viola; Kee-Hyun Kim, cello
Carrie Henneman Shaw, voice

Asako Hirabayashi, harpsichord
Bernhard David Scully, horn
Christopher Marshall, bassoon
Fora Baltacigil, double bass

Linda Chatterton, flutist
Sarah Kwak, violinist
Gao Hong, Chinese pipa player
Arek Tesarczyk, cellist

Noah Hoehn, harmonica player
David Karr, saxophone player
Charles Lazarus, trumpeter
Matthew Young, violist

Katja Linfield, cellist
Patrick Harison McPeck, accordionist
The Minneapolis Quartet, string quartet

Connie Evingson, vocalist
Amy and Sara Hamann, piano duo
Ross/Rapier Cello Duo
Voice Trek, vocal ensemble

Stephanie Arado, violinist
Artaria String Quartet
John Snow, oboist
Thomas Turner, violist

Steven Copes, violinist
Noah Hoehn, harmonica player
Dean Magraw, guitarist
Stephanie Wendt, pianist

Leibundguth-Witt Duo, flute & piano duo
Neal and Leandra, voice/guitar duo
Nina Tso-Ning Fan, violinist
Soyulla Duo, violin & cello duo

Dare to Breathe, vocal ensemble
Gao Hong, Chinese pipa player
Prudence Johnson, vocalist
Anthony Ross, cellist

The Bakken Trio, piano trio
Rosalyra Quartet, string quartet
Timothy Paradise, clarinetist
Connie Evingson, vocalist

Duologue, flute & guitar duo
Jorja Fleezanis, violinist
Diane Jarvi, vocalist & instrumentalist
Peter Mayer, vocalist/guitarist

Linda Chatterton, flutist
Laura MacKenzie, Celtic multi-instrumentalist
Ruth MacKenzie, vocalist
Sunita Staneslaw, harpist

Ensemble Capriccio, string trio
Gao Hong, Chinese pipa player
Shank-MacLaughlin Duo, violin & piano duo
Tadeusz Majewski, pianist

Contact & Resources

If you have questions after reviewing these guidelines, please contact:

Regarding Eligibility and Guidelines:
Lindsay Lewis
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 612-767-5586

Regarding the Online Application Software:
If you need help with the GetAcceptd website, please refer to the resources available at the GetAcceptd Help Desk. The Help Desk provides step-by-step articles and videos that will assist you with any technical issues you encounter. If you require further assistance, you can reach out to the GetAcceptd Support Team here

If you need access to a computer or internetconsider going to your local public library or Springboard for the Arts
McKnight Musician Fellows should feel free to use these logos which have been designed for McKnight Artist Fellows.

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