Alumna Fabiola M. Méndez Receives Whippoorwill Arts Fellowship

Méndez is one of four musicians to be awarded the $25,000 grant for the 2022–2023 season.

August 18, 2022

Berklee alumna Fabiola M. Méndez B.M. ’18 is one of four musicians that were awarded a Whippoorwill Arts Fellowship for the 2022–2023 season. A native of Caguas, Puerto Rico, Méndez was the first student to graduate from Berklee specializing in the cuatro, a string instrument that functions like a guitar but is closer in shape to a violin.

Whippoorwill Arts fellows each receive a $25,000 direct-to-artist grant to conceive, develop, create, and present a music-based project of their choice, to be completed in a year’s time. In addition to the grant, the fellowship program includes a weeklong retreat to Puerto Rico in February 2023; a featured performance at the Whippoorwill Arts Festival in October 2022 in Tacoma, Washington; and the opportunity to attend four virtual gatherings throughout the year to connect, exchange ideas, and get creative.

"As an independent artist who works under many umbrellas within the music industry, it is sometimes challenging to find one's artistic north," said Méndez. "This fellowship provides an opportunity to concretize what that next step looks like [and] brings me back to the core of my identity...a return to my Puerto Rican folk roots, to explore how all these sounds, rhythms, and frequencies connect us all, and to implement those elements into the creation of new artistic work."

Fellowship recipients are nominated by past fellows, in addition to members of the Whippoorwill Arts staff and board. The final four artists are determined through a committee selection process. Molly Tuttle ’14, a Berklee alumna, is a 2018 fellow who was part of the organization’s first cohort.

“My partner Jim Nunally and I are working musicians ourselves,” said Hilary Perkins, cofounder of Whippoorwill Arts. “We have experienced firsthand both the joy and the struggle of making a life in music sustainable. We created the fellowship program for working musicians to nurture their creativity, celebrate their talent and dedication, and, honestly, to put money directly into their pockets. We decided to translate our passion for music into a tangible way to respect the people who make it. We hope this program inspires many others to find creative ways to support the working musicians who literally make this world a more beautiful place.”

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