NEW YORK FOUNDATION HONORS
FLORIDA SONGWRITER, PERFORMER AND POET
Grant Peeples, the poet, songwriter, and performer whose lyrics and rhythms probe life as real people live it in Florida and other places, has been chosen to receive
The Chengzhong Focus Foundation Award for Creative Excellence.
The Award carries with it a development grant of $10,000, intended to enable the recipient to develop new works of creative excellence.
"No one tells uncomfortable truths with more wit, precision, humor and humanity," said T.D. Allman, Vice President of the Focus Foundation, as he announced the award.
"Grant Peeples is one of Florida's greatest sons. He tells truths you don't find in newspaper reports and history books. He is a man of courage as well as a truly gifted musician."
In the past the New York-based Chengzhong Focus Foundation has honored academic institutions such as Oxford University, Columbia University and Beijing University with its financial grants. It also has supported humanitarian projects including the clearance of unexploded cluster bombs and other dangerous explosives in Laos.
"This time several of our most notable honorands are Floridians," said Allman, whose most recent book, Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State, was a finalist for the National Book Award. "Writing the book, and then visiting different parts of the state to talk about it, allowed me to put the Foundation in contact with some truly remarkable people." He added: "I first heard Grant Peeples sing when 'Come on Down to the Sunshine State' was played as the introduction for an interview I did with WLRN in Miami. It was a revelation."
In announcing its decision to honor Grant Peeples, a seventh-generation native Floridian, the Focus Foundation cited the humor, compassion and wisdom shimmering in such musical compositions as “Aunt Lou” and “She Was a Wildflower,” as well in poems such as “Chattel Slaves.” It also singled out for honor the unflinching social insight and cultural acuity of such compositions as “The Hanging” and “My People Come from the Dirt,” and also of poems like “Cowboy Gothic.”
The Focus Foundation's other Florida honorands include Professor Canter Brown, for his work resurrecting crucial truths about Florida's past; Professor Clark Lunberry, for his vibrant interdisciplinary approach to learning and outreach at the University of North Florida; The Key West Art and Historical Society, for its rejuvenation of its museums and programs; Genesis Health Services in Sarasota, for its work combining educational opportunities for young people in the health field with medical care for Floridians lacking health insurance; and Main Street Monticello, for its efforts to enrich community life in that historic north Florida town.