President Joe Biden has nominated Fiona Whelan Prine to the National Council on the Arts.
“Fiona Whelan Prine brings an expansive viewpoint to the American roots music community,” reads a press release issued by the White House announcing the news, citing her role as president of Oh Boy Records — which she ran with her late husband, John Prine, before his death in April 2020 due to COVID-19 complications — as well as her volunteer work with global women’s nonprofit Thistle Farms. Additionally, she is the founder and president of the Hello in There Foundation, a new charitable foundation launched by the Prine Family in memory of the beloved singer-songwriter.
Whelan Prine will join seven other nominees on the council, including ukelele player Jake Shimabukuro, director/producer Kamilah Forbes, choreographer Christopher K. Morgan, and Syrian clarinet player Kinan Azmeh.
Following his death, John Prine was honored as the first-ever poet laureate in his home state of Illinois and won two posthumous Grammys (for Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song) for his final studio release, “I Remember Everything”, bringing his career total to six — including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award he received in 2020.
One week after the musical giant’s tragic passing, Consequence also organized “Angel from Maywood: A Livestream Tribute to John Prine”, which featured performances by the likes of Norah Jones, Grace Potter, and Warren Hayes. Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, The Head and the Heart, and Lake Street Dive were also among the acts who paid tribute to Prine by covering tracks from his legendary catalog.
For her part, Whelan Prine didn’t hold back her thoughts in the wake of her husband’s death, taking to Twitter to blast President Donald Trump’s self-congratulations regarding his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Can someone get that fucking idiot off the stage. My husband died on his watch,” she tweeted when the then-president gave himself an “A+” grade during an interview.
“You have not truly listened to his body of work if you think that John had anything but distain for the modern Republican Party and all they represent,” she later added in response to a fan. “Trump is the ultimate manifestation of their self-serving hypocrisy.”