Eight Mentor-and-Apprentice Artist Teams Awarded $3,000

AUSTIN (MARCH. 2023) – Texas Folklife is proud to announce the 2023 Apprenticeships in the Folk and Traditional Arts Program awardees. The Apprenticeship Program fosters the continuity of Texas’s traditional arts through mentorship, artist development, and organizational support. Mentors and apprentices from across the region were chosen from a number of highly qualified applicants through a rigorous panel review process.

Since 1987, Texas Folklife’s Apprenticeships in the Folk and Traditional Arts Program has supported hundreds of folk and traditional artists’ training statewide. Traditional arts, or folk arts, are those art forms practiced by a group of people with a shared learning experience. Both the artist mentor and the apprentice are awarded the time and resources necessary to devote themselves to their craft, thus ensuring that these vital traditional arts are passed on to new generations of Texans.

This year, Texas Folklife will award eight mentor-and-apprentice artist teams $3,000. Alongside conducting virtual site visits/interviews, Texas Folklife will work with the artists to document their apprenticeship, supporting them as they capture their work together through photography, video recording, and other means of creative virtual documentation. This documentation will be shared on Texas Folklife’s digital channels throughout the year. The artist teams will also participate in public showcases of their work across the state in late summer 2023. To this end, many of the artists will participate in Texas Folklife’s fourth annual Apprenticeship Program Virtual Showcase in early August. Watch the 2021 and 2022 virtual showcases on Texas Folklife’s Apprenticeship Program playlist on YouTube.

From internationally renowned artists, and critically lauded performers to young and established culture bearers dedicated to breathing new life into their art forms, the 2023 Apprenticeship Program features an impressive roster of mentors and apprentices committed to fostering the continuity of their communities’ traditions. “We’re really excited about this year’s cohort”, says Program Coordinator Marco Guarino. “This year’s artist awardees include a wide range of practices that span from traditional Texan imaginaries like Trail Riding, Folk Guitar, and Fishing Lure Construction to more modern representations of Texan cultural life, including Indian raga and classical dance, Qawwali (Sufi music), West African drumming, and a mash–up team that represents two distinct regional practices, Flamenco and Son Jarocho. All of the mentors in our 2023 cohort are bona fide masters of their craft, and we are confident that they will pass the baton to their apprentices authentically.”

2023 Texas Folklife Apprenticeships in the Folk and Traditional Arts Awardees

  • Mentor Jacques Houston (Houston) and apprentice DaLyah Jones (Houston) in the art of Trail Riding
  • Mentor Sonny Mehta (Friendswood) and apprentice Rishabh Lamsal (Houston) in the art of Qawwali (Sufi Music)
  • Mentor Michael Sinks (Pampa) and apprentice Arieon Keller (Pampa) in the art of Folk Americana Guitar
  • Mentor Priya Vadhana Raja (San Antonio) and apprentice Shruti Sathish (San Antonio) in the art of  Bharatanatyam (Indian Classical Dance)
  • Mentor Indrajit Banerjee (Austin) and apprentice Milton Holbrook (San Antonio) in the art of Hindustani (Classical Indian Ragas on Sitar)
  • Mentor Chayito Champion (San Antonio) and apprentice Keli Rosa Cabunoc Romero (San Antonio) in the art of Flamenco and Son Jarocho
  • Mentor Richard Whitehead (Colmesneil) and apprentice William Bailey (Madisonville) in the art of Fishing Lure Construction
  • Mentor Aboubacar Sylla (Austin) and apprentice Forest Cazayoux (Austin) in the art of West African Folk Percussion

The Texas Folklife Apprenticeship Program is made possible by a State Partnership Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Texas Commission on the Arts and support from the board and members of Texas Folklife. Additional support is provided by folk and traditional arts partners across Texas including Arts Council Wichita Falls and Lubbock Cultural Arts Foundation, among others.

Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. The National Endowment for the Arts designates Texas Folklife as the official folk and traditional arts organization for the state. Since 1984, Texas Folklife has honored traditions passed down within communities, explored the importance of traditional arts in contemporary society and celebrated the state’s vibrant heritage by providing arts experiences enjoyable and accessible for all generations. For more information, visit

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Find participant headshots and photo collages of artist mentors and apprentices in web-friendly sizes at

Maya Williams-Britton
(512) 441-9255

Marco F. Guarino 


Photo Caption: 2023 Texas Folklife Apprenticeship Program Awardees. Left to right, starting from the upper left: Indrajit Banerjee, William Bailey, Richard Whitehead, Forest Cazayoux, Arieon Keller, Shruti Sathish, Jacques Houston, Chayito Champion, DaLyah Jones, Keli Rosa Cabunoc Romero, Sonny Mehta, Milton Holbrook, Priya Vadhana Raja, Aboubacar Sylla, Rishabh Lamsal, and Michael Sinks