Acadiana state Senator Gerald Boudreaux, along with Chef John Folse and Cajun music documentary “Roots of Fire,” have been selected for awards from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
Folse has been named the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ 2023 Humanist of the Year. Boudreaux will receive the Champion of Culture Award. And Roots of Fire and its directors and producers Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi will receive the Humanities Documentary Film of the Year.
The award winners - along with those who have been chosen for the awards over the past three years - will be honored on May 11 at the first Bright Lights Awards Dinner since the pandemic began.
The event will take place for the first time in and around LEH’s historic Turners’ Hall in downtown New Orleans, which is now home to The Helis Foundation John Scott Center.
Here are the details about the awards and the winners:
Humanist of the Year: Chef John Folse
The LEH’s Humanist of the Year award recognizes someone who has made invaluable and lasting contributions to Louisiana’s cultural landscape. The 2023 Humanist of the Year is Chef John Folse, a culinary professional, food historian, tv personality, restauranteur and Louisiana culture bearer. A native of St. James Parish, Folse has offered Louisianans and non-Louisianans alike a window on Louisiana food and culture through his restaurants, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, and his numerous cookbooks.
Champion of Culture: Senator Gerald Boudreaux
Individuals or organizations that receive the Champion of Culture award have made a lasting mark through their support and promotion of Louisiana’s cultural resources. During the 2022 Legislative Session, State Senator Gerald Boudreaux (District 24) championed the humanities and the work of the LEH.
His efforts led to significant state funding for the LEH and its statewide programs for the first time in ten years. He also introduced State Senate Resolution No. 97, which “commends the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for its outstanding contributions to the state of Louisiana and to express sincere gratitude to the Prime Time Head Start programs for its lasting contributions to early childhood education in Lafayette Parish and in Louisiana.”
Humanities Documentary Film of the Year: “Roots of Fire,” directed and produced by Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi
The Humanities Documentary Film of the Year award honors a documentary film from the previous calendar year that best exemplifies scholarship on Louisiana topics or by Louisiana documentary filmmakers. In “Roots of Fire” filmmakers Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi explore the history and legacy of Cajun music through a look at contemporary musicians building new audiences—and new outlets—for the storied genre.
- Chair’s Award for Institutional Support: Patrick F. Taylor Foundation
- Documentary Photographer of the Year: Jenny Ellerbe
- Humanities Book of the Year: Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom” by Kathryn Olivarius (published by Harvard University Press)
- Lifetime Contributions to the Humanities: Marianne Fisher-Giorlando
- Best in Digital Humanities: Freedom on the Move
- Light Up for Literacy: Megan Holt
To purchase tickets or for more information, visit LEH.org or call (504) 356-0517.
The 2023 Bright Lights Awards Dinner is presented by Entergy, with additional support from The Helis Foundation, Jones Walker, Urban South Brewery, and Gulf Coast Bank.