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Bush appoints Lee Greenwood to National Arts Council

November 3, 2008 |  4:28 pm

Lee Greenwood performs God Bless the U.S.A. in concert in Warner Robins, GA in late-September, 2001

Lee Greenwood's main claim to fame is writing and singing the hit patriotic hymn "God Bless the U.S.A." Soon Greenwood's blessing will matter on the American arts scene -- at least the part interested in tapping into federal largess via grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate, the Nashville-based country singer is scheduled to be sworn in Nov. 17 as one of the 14 regular members of the National Council on the Arts. Council members advise the NEA chairman, and their portfolio includes reviewing and making recommendations on applications for grants from the $145-million-a-year federal agency. Greenwood will serve a six-year term.

Falletta_2_2 Another new appointee, JoAnn Falletta, the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Virginia Symphony, will serve three years, filling a vacancy created last year by the resignation of octogenarian jazz drummer Chico Hamilton.

Greenwood, who grew up on a farm near Sacramento, is the lone council member appointed by Bush who will serve throughout the four years of an Obama or McCain term. The other 13 slots are occupied by Bush appointees but will come due during the next president's term.

More important, the next president will choose a new chairman of the NEA. Bush appointee Dana Gioia announced recently that he will leave in mid-January rather than serve the last two years of his term.

-- Mike Boehm

Top photo: Lee Greenwood performs "God Bless the U.S.A." in concert in Warner Robins, Ga., in late September 2001. Credit: Danny Gilleland / Associated Press

Bottom photo: JoAnn Falletta conducts. Credit: Jim Bush /gsiartists.com

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