WATFORD CITY, N.D. — Jessie Veeder may best be known for singing about life in North Dakota, but it’s her work singing the praises of the arts that recently earned her statewide honors.
Veeder was one of four people and two organizations given a 2019 Governor’s Award for the Arts.
“There are so many people in the arts throughout the state doing great things and I’m just in my corner of the world just doing what I’ve always done,” she said recently from her ranch home near Watford City. “To be recognized for something I believe in and that I’m so passionate about, what a great thing.”
The singer-songwriter has added arts advocate to her resume as the director of the Long X Art Foundation, which fosters arts involvement in Watford City and surrounding McKenzie County in western North Dakota.
The foundation is just a few years old and has organized everything from art classes for kids and adults to a concert series that recently brought in internationally acclaimed classical pianist Charlie Albright.
“There are lots of things happening in western North Dakota in terms of art and music that go under the radar because people are just quietly doing it,” Veeder says. “I want to shout it from the rooftops. Celebrate these people that are so talented and give them places to showcase their art and play their music and to show people that art and music really enhances the quality of life here, in the middle of nowhere.”
Daphne Clark, a painter in Williston, attended the Governor’s Award for the Arts in 2017 and was dismayed there wasn’t more recognition of what was happening in western North Dakota. When nominations were sought out this time around, she and others wrote in support of Veeder’s work as an artist and an arts advocate.
“She always promotes the west side of the state, but the thing she does so well is partners and collaborates with others. You work with Jessie and you feel like she builds everybody up,” Clark says.
While Veeder wasn’t able to attend the awards ceremony in March, Clark was and was happy to see the singer get her due.
“We want people to stay here and make it their home,” Veeder says. “In order to tell our story or celebrate this sense of place, all of those types of programming help tell the story of a community and make people getting to know a community feel more a part of it.”
Veeder also writes a weekly column for Forum Communications Co., which publishes The Forum.
“I love being out and playing music and telling the story of North Dakota and the people here,” Veeder says. “Flipping it around and giving back to the community I love so much has been really fulfilling.”
Other 2019 Governor’s Award for the Arts winners were Annette Hovey of New Rockford, David Borlaug of Bismarck, John Gross of Napoleon, the Jamestown Fine Arts Association and the Fargo-based Office Sign Co. A total of 26 individuals and organizations were nominated this year.