The prize, established by the late actress Lillian Gish in memory of her actress sister, Dorothy, will be presented to Coleman at an awards ceremony Oct. 14 at the Hudson Theater on Broadway. According to the Gish Prize Trust committee announcement, Coleman is being honored for ushering in a new era for jazz with his "harmolodic" concept that broke music away from prevailing conventions of harmony, rhythm and melody.
The 2004 prize was selected by a committee of judges from several fields of the arts without any application process or competition.
"I am so happy for this recognition and for the light it shines on the world of jazz and all musicians working hard to be heard," said Coleman in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Previous winners of the Gish Prize have been choreographer Bill T. Jones, theater director Lloyd Richards, songwriter Bob Dylan, playwright Arthur Miller, author Isabelle Allende and architect Frank Gehry.