Bill Ivey

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Bill Ivey
BornSeptember 6, 1944
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Indiana University
Known forDirector of the Country Music Foundation
Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts
Chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
AwardsBillboard Country Award
Grammy Award nomination (four times)
Portrait of Bill Ivey by artist Paula Cleggett, 2020.

Bill Ivey is an American folklorist and author. He was the seventh chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a past Chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Early life[edit]

Billy Ivey was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 6, 1944.[1] Ivey was reared in Calumet, a mining town located in the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1966, received a master's degree in folklore and ethnomusicology from Indiana University in 1970, and became a PhD candidate in folklore and history in 1971.[2]


Ivey was the first full-time director of the Country Music Foundation and the related Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, having been promoted to the directorship a few months after first being hired as CMF librarian. He served from 1971 until 1998. In 1972 Ivey also became the founding editor of the Journal of Country Music, serving as editor until 1975.[2][1] In 1974 Ivey won a Billboard Country Award for album note writing.[3]

He also served as the chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) from 1981 to 1983 and then again from 1989 to 1991,[4] the only individual elected to two separate terms, and he has also served as the national chairman of the academy's Board of Trustees.[1] In 1983 he said of the organization he headed that, “As time goes on, the Grammys have come closer and closer to satisfying the critics by recognizing what is happening now, but I don’t think we will ever get to the point where the critic’s choice for the most imaginative and innovative record of the year is going to be the Grammy winner. There will always be a little distance, and that’s probably healthy.” In 1988 Ivey was co-writer of the 30th Grammy Awards Telecast,[5][6] and in 1994 President Bill Clinton appointed Ivey to the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.[1]

Ivey was appointed chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, by then-President Bill Clinton, serving from 1998 to 2001. His "Challenge America" small-grant initiative is credited with restoring congressional confidence in the sometimes-embattled NEA. He gained national notoriety in 1999 for unilaterally revoking a grant to Cinco Puntos Press to publish La Historia de los Colores, over concerns that the funding might end up in the hands of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Zapatistas). The grant was subsequently picked up and doubled by the Lannan Foundation.[7]

Following government service Ivey founded the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, at Vanderbilt University, serving as director from 2002 to 2012.[8] He returned to Washington in 2007 as Team Leader in Arts and Humanities for the Barack Obama presidential transition. Ivey has written and lectured extensively about the importance of cultural policy and the value of cultural engagement in the pursuit of a high quality of life. He coined the phrase "Expressive Life" to define the part of the human experience shaped by cultural heritage and creative practice. From 2007 to 2018, Ivey was senior advisor for China to the American Folklore Society.[9] has been awarded honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, Michigan Technological University, Wayne State University, and Indiana University, and is a four-time Grammy Award nominee in the Best Album Notes category. Bill Ivey currently serves as Visiting Research Scholar to the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, and is a trustee of the Washington, DC-based Center for American Progress.[9]


Ivey produced several television shows for the Country Music Foundation,[10] including producing and writing Country Music Hall of Fame: 25.[11] Ivey was advisor to the PBS television series, American Roots Music, and was writer and co-producer of In the Hank Williams Tradition, also on PBS.[12] In 2016 he was co-executive producer of the documentary on the impact of rock music on the collapse of the Soviet Union, Free to Rock.[13]


In 2007 Ivey co-edited the book Engaging Art: the Next Great Transformation of America's Cultural, and In 2008 Ivey's book Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights was published by the University of California Press.[9] Then in 2012 he released the book Handmaking America: A Back-to-Basics Pathway to a Revitalized American Democracy. In 2018 he published the book Rebuidling an Enlightened World: Folklorizing America.

Ivey was also the co-editor of the books The Pocantico Gathering: Happiness and a High Quality of Life – The Role of Art and Art Making,[14] Cultural Awareness in the Military: Developments and Implications for Future Humanitarian Cooperation, and Cultural Discourse: China-US Intangible Cultural Heritage Forums.[15] He has also written articles on the music industry and the role of various players within it.[16][17] Ivey has also written about music history, including the lack of diverse representation in the early decades of 20th century music recording.[18]


  • Engaging Art : the Next Great Transformation of America's Cultural Life (2007). ISBN 9780415960427
  • Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights. (2008). ISBN 9780520241121
  • Handmaking America: A Back-to-Basics Pathway to a Revitalized American Democracy, Counterpoint Press, 2012, ISBN 9781619020535
  • Rebuidling an Enlightened World: Folklorizing America, Indiana University Press, 2018,[19]


  1. ^ a b c d The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Oxford University Press. 16 December 2004. ISBN 9780199840441 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b "The Engaged Scholar Speaker Series - Bill Ivey - National Collaborative for the Study of University Engagement". 2010-04-07. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  3. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (16 February 1974). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "The Recording Academy RETROspective: 50 Years Of Legacy & Le". 16 March 2009.
  5. ^ Holden, Stephen. "AT 25, THE GRAMMYS EXTOL POP'S MAINSTREAM".
  6. ^ Ivey, Bill, co-writer (with Billy Crystal and Robert Wuhl), “The 30th Anniversary Grammy Awards Telecast.” CBS TV, March 1988.
  7. ^ "The Story Behind The Story of Colors | Cinco Puntos Press | Independent Book Publisher". 1999-03-09. Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  8. ^ Elizabeth Latt (2012-05-25). "Founding Director Bill Ivey to step down from Vanderbilt's Curb Center; Jay Clayton named successor | News | Vanderbilt University". Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  9. ^ a b c "AFS Executive Director Tim Lloyd Visits China - American Folklore Society".
  10. ^ "The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee on March 11, 1990 · Page 155".
  11. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (6 July 1974). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. – via Google Books.
  12. ^ "Documentary Traces Country Music".
  13. ^ "Bill Ivey". IMDb.
  14. ^ "The Pocantico Gathering Happiness and a High Quality of Life: The Role of Art and Art Making - The Curb Center".
  15. ^ "Cultural Awareness in the Military - Developments and Implications for Future Humanitarian Cooperation - R. Albro - Palgrave Macmillan".
  16. ^ Isenhour, Jack (3 May 2018). He Stopped Loving Her Today: George Jones, Billy Sherrill, and the Pretty-much Totally True Story of the Making of the Greatest Country Record of All Time. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 9781617031021 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ Sinnreich, Aram (3 May 2018). Mashed Up: Music, Technology, and the Rise of Configurable Culture. Univ of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 9781558498297 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ Laird, Tracey E. W. (3 May 2018). Louisiana Hayride: Radio and Roots Music Along the Red River. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 9780195167511 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ "Rebuilding an Enlightened World". Indiana University Press.

External links[edit]