(Temple, Texas) - Joe DeLeon "Little Joe" Hernandez joins very rare company with an incredible recognition from The National Endowment for the Arts, and brings some amazing prestige home to Killeen-Temple, Texas. He has been recognized as a 2023 National Heritage Fellows recipient of our nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts by the NEA. This recognition is similar to a lifetime achievement award.

Who is Little Joe Hernandez?

Little Joe has been a lifelong resident of Temple, and has released over 70 albums, winning five Grammy awards in a career that is quickly approaching 70 years. He has received many other recognitions over the decades including being honored by Temple Independent School District this past fall with the Temple Education Foundation’s (TEF) Distinguished Alumni Award.

One small thing just needed to be done first. Little Joe wasn't an alum because he left school early to help his family in the 1950's. Temple ISD's Board of Trustees took care of that hurdle, and awarded Little Joe the first ever honorary diploma in the district's history. Just one more record to add to Little Joe's trophy case.

The best part of receiving the first honorary diploma, it was presented by his own son Isaac Hernandez, Assistant Principal at Temple High School.

Check out Little Joe y La Familia from Farm Aid at Texas Stadium in 1992 performing with Willie Nelson:

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What is the National Heritage Fellows?

“The 2023 National Heritage Fellows exemplify what it means to live an artful life,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, Ph.D. “Their rich and diverse art forms connect us to the past, strengthen our communities today, and give hope to future generations in ways that only the arts can. Our nation is strengthened through their meaningful practices, expressions, and preservation of traditional artistry.” Read more here.

Congrats, sir!

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