Joel Harrison

Jazz Guitarist, Composer, & Vocalist

Joel Harrison

Recipient Information


Brooklyn, New York


Jazz Guitar, Vocals, & Composition

Project Title

Free Country

Year of Award


Grant or Fellowship

Jazz Road Tours Grant

Grant Amount



About the Artist

Washington D.C. native Joel Harrison is a shapeshifting guitarist, composer, arranger, vocalist and songwriter. Named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2010, he has released 20 CD’s on seven record labels since 1994. Called “protean” and “brilliant” by The New York Times, Harrison has spent his career traversing jazz, classical, rock, country, W. African, Indian, and classical music. Having spent formative years in Boston and the Bay Area he is now a resident of Brooklyn NY.

Harrison’s work transgresses perceived boundaries: he combines African and country, Indian and jazz, American roots with avant garde exploration. He is a two-time winner of the Jazz Composer’s Alliance Composition Competition, and has received support from Chamber Music America, the Flagler Cary Trust, NYSCA, New Music USA, and the Jerome Foundation.  He has appeared high  on the “Rising Star” Downbeat Magazine poll for years.

Harrison has composed a number of  non-improvised works as well, whether for orchestra, string quartet, solo cello, or percussion, including the PASIC award-winning marimba solo Fear of Silence. He is the founder and administrator of the Alternative Guitar Summit, a yearly festival devoted to new and unusual guitar music. Pat Metheny called the Summit “one of the most interesting and distinguished forums for guitar on the planet.”