Bradley Hanson, Director of Folklife
Bradley Hanson has served as Director of Folklife at the Tennessee Arts Commission since January 2015. As the State Folklorist, he oversees the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, the Tennessee Folklife Cultural Survey, and manages numerous grants awarded for folklife projects across the state. In addition, he consults and contributes statewide on folklife programming, documentation, research, and media projects.
Prior to joining the Commission, he worked seasonally as a cultural interpreter for the Tennessee State Parks and the Friends of the Cumberland Trail. As part of the Cumberland Trail Music and Heritage Project, his efforts included field research, archival management, interpretive writing, and record and radio production centered on regional music, culture, and folklife. In 2011, he was given the Blanton Owen Fund Award from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to support his fieldwork in East Tennessee with bluegrass, country, and gospel musicians.
He graduated from Brown University with a PhD in Ethnomusicology in 2014. That same year, his book proposal, Tuned Our Way: Music, Memory, and Heritage in East Tennessee, was accepted into the Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World series, a Mellon Foundation Scholarly Monograph Initiative for first time authors. The work is set for future publication from the University of Illinois Press. His scholarship has also been published at the Southern Spaces online journal, in The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 14: Folklife, and in The Routledge Companion to Intangible Heritage.
He has presented traditional musicians at many events and festivals, including the Louie Bluie Music and Arts Festival (2007-2015), the Sounds Like Home: A Night of Music from the Cumberlands concert (2010-2014), and the WLAF Community Reunion (2015), in Caryville; and A Night of Music from New River (2011) and The Legendary Wade Hill and Friends (2015) for Jubilee Community Arts, in Knoxville. He also served as a lead presenter at the Everlasting Music: Seven Decades of Music from the Cumberland Mountains concert in Crossville in 2014.
From 2007 to 2012, he produced and hosted sixty episodes of the Cumberland Trail radio show on FM station WDVX. In 2013, he produced Fallen Country Star, an album of songs and performances by country singer and songwriter Jim Fagan, on Sandrock Recordings. In 2014, with support from the Campbell Culture Coalition and Humanities Tennessee, he created Jamboree Time, a documentary project telling the history of LaFollette’s Tennessee Jamboree radio program through rare and recently uncovered archival film clips, recordings, photographs, and oral history interviews. At present, he is at work on Appearing in Person, a documentary film about East Tennessee banjo legend Wade Hill.