Takoma guitar man lauded by NEA

Warner WilliamsWarner Williams

Last month, Takoma Park native Warner Williams received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Williams was honored with the award at the Capitol Visitor Center on September 21. Two days later, the nine fellows gave a concert at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda.

He was honored as one of the greatest songster musicians still alive today — songster being an African American style that predates the blues. Williams prefers to be known as a “guitar man.” He looks to a variety of musicians as influences, from Lightning Hopkins to Gene Autry .

Williams, 81, was one of 11 children born and raised in a musical family in Takoma Park — though he now lives in Gaitherburg. His instrument of choice is the guitar, and has been since he first picked one up at age four.


Photo by Michael G. Stewart