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Mia Chung, Jessica Huang, among Jerome Fellowship winners

Playwright Mia Chung, whose “You For Me For You” was had a successful Mu Performing Arts production at the Guthrie Theater a year ago, has won a Jerome Foundation fellowship and will be moving to the Twin Cities, the Playwrights Center, which administers the prizes, announced Wednesday.

The fellowship comes with an $18,000 stipend and $1,725 in play development funds.

Chung, who was educated at Yale and Brown, joins four other winners of the prestigious Jerome grant, whose distinguished alumni includes August Wilson, Lee Blessing, Lisa D’Amour and Naomi Iizuka.

The other winners of the 2017-2018 Jerome fellowship class are: 

Twin Citian Jessica Huang (right) whose “The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin” recently premiered at the History Theatre;

New Yorker Tim J. Lord, who earned his master of fine arts in playwriting at the University of California-San Diego and whose plays include “We declare you a terrorist…”;

and Bostonian Tori Skyler Sampson (left), who is completing her MFA at the Yale School of Drama and who won the 2017 Paula Vogel playwriting from the Kennedy Center.

They will be in residence in the Twin Cities for a year, using the center as a base. They win their fellowships at a time when artists, in general, and theater artists, specifically, are grappling with fundamental issues of citizenship.

“These are the artists who will lead our country forward, and whose voices you will continue to hear echo across stages around the country,” said Jeremy B. Cohen, producing artistic director at the Playwrights’ Center.

The center also announced that its Many Voices Fellowship, which supports emerging playwrights of color and also is underwritten by the Jerome Foundation, had increased its funding to match the other Jerome fellowships.

The winners of that the Many Voices Fellowship are Diane Exavier, a playwright, poet and performance artist from Brooklyn, who is completing her MFA at Brown, and Minnesota writer Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, whose “Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals” premiered at Mu Performing Arts in 2013. 

Writer, performer and dancer Julia Gay, who performed in Transatlantic Love Affair’s “Promise Land” at the Guthrie Theater in January, also was named Many Voices mentee, which comes with a $2,000 stipend and support from established artists such as playwright Christina Ham.

The Jerome fellowships are part of a web of support that has helped the Twin Cities maintain its reputation as an artistic mecca.

Lucinda Williams is planning a 'Sweet Old' treat for First Ave on Friday

Lucinda Williams at First Avenue in 2009 (the night she got hitched on stage). / Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

Lucinda Williams at First Avenue in 2009 (the night she got hitched on stage). / Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

Still upping her ranking as one of the greatest Americana singer/songwriters of all time with such recent albums as last year’s “The Ghosts of Highway 20,” Lucinda Williams has a knack for turning her First Avenue gigs into special occasions. Like that time she held her wedding on stage at Minneapolis’s landmark club after a performance in 2009 (it really doesn’t get more special than that!).

Turns out, her return engagement at First Ave this Friday is going to be a one-of-a-kind show, too. Williams and her well-heeled live band are going to perform her 1992 album “Sweet Old World” in its entirety as an exclusive treat for Twin Cities fans. Not only are they revisiting the album in concert to mark its 25th anniversary, they also just finished re-recording the entire LP for an upcoming release.

“Lucinda is thrilled with how it came out,” said her husband and manager, Tom Overby, a Minnesota native and former Best Buy music exec. Ironically, Overby first met his future wife at a listening party for “Sweet Old World” a few blocks from First Ave at Gluek’s in 1992. As he recalled it, “Our conversation went something like this: ‘Great record.’ ‘Thanks.’”

Williams was less-than-thrilled with the original version of the LP, though, which carried the follow-up pressure from her acclaimed 1988 eponymous collection for Rough Trade Records -- the record that first brought her to First Ave and 7th Street Entry on tour. The songs on "Sweet Old World" endure, including the tender ballad “Something About What Happens When We Talk,” the gritty rocker “Pineola” and the suicide-fighting title track (later covered by Emmylou Harris and heralded by Rolling Stone). However, the recording sessions behind it went through several different gestations in an attempt to Nashville-ize Lucinda, and the album ultimately suffered from slick production that sounds especially dated today (Austin guitarist Gurf Morlix’s rich contributions aside).

This time around, Williams’ live band did most of the work, along with accomplished lap-steel/slide guitar ace Greg Leisz, who’s played on probably a quarter of the albums you own. “Greg was very involved in the twisted tale of the original record but never ended up on the final version,” Overby explained. “He plays on everything here, so after 25 years he gets justice.”

The new version of the album won't be released until Sept. 29, but Williams and her band are more than ready to perform it Friday. The show will also include a set of other tunes. Tickets are $35 and available through eTix.

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