By Dr. Bradley Hanson, Director of Folklife–
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Langston Collin Wilkins as the Tennessee Arts Commission’s new Traditional Arts Specialist. Langston steps into the former Folklife Program Assistant position. He joins me in our ongoing work with nonprofit organizations, traditional artists, culture workers, and community scholars across the state to document, preserve, and present Tennessee’s diverse folklife. The entire Commission staff is excited to welcome him.
An ethnomusicologist and folklorist, Langston holds a PhD in Folklore & Ethnomusicology from Indiana University. He also holds a master’s degree in African American and African Diaspora studies from Indiana University and a bachelor of arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin. From 2012-2015, Langston was the Laura Bolton Junior Fellow in the Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. Along with his academic work, Langston also served as a folklife fellow for the Folklife and Traditional Arts Program of the Houston Arts Alliance and the Houston Museum of African American Culture where he conducted field research and produced public programs that centered on the traditional arts of Houston’s African Diasporic communities. He also co-founded the Houston Slab Parade & Family Festival, an event that celebrated SLAB, a car art culture that emerged within Houston, Texas’ African American community and is closely associated with the city’s hip hop culture.
In 2015, Langston defended his doctoral dissertation titled “Screwston, TX: The Impact of Space, Place, and Cultural Identity on Music Making in Houston, Texas’ Hip Hop Music Scene,” which is an ethnographic examination of the impact of spatial practices on music making among hip hop artists in Houston, Texas. He has also presented his research at major conferences including the annual meetings of the American Folklore Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.
Most recently, Langston was a Program Officer at Humanities Tennessee where, among other responsibilities, he served as director for the Tennessee Young Writers’ Workshop and Appalachian Young Writers’ Workshop.