Charles F. Bryan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Charles Faulkner Bryan (July 26, 1911 – July 7, 1955) was an American composer, musician, music educator and collector of folk music.


Bryan was born in McMinnville, Tennessee. He is considered by many to be one of Tennessee's greatest composers and musicians. Bryan served on the faculty of George Peabody College (1947–1952) in Nashville, and served as president of the Tennessee Folklore Society. Bryan also taught at Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in Cookeville, Tennessee and the Indian Spring School for Boys in Alabama. He worked as a director of music and library projects of the Works Projects Administration in their southeastern region, and engaged in folklore studies. He died on July 7, 1955, in Pinson, Alabama.


According to his biographer, Carolyn Livingston, Bryan was "a pioneer in the study of American folk music" who created in his students "a sense of value for the folk ballads and hymns of Appalachia". He composed the music of Singin' Billy: A Folk Opera (1952), possibly his best known, with Donald Davidson as author of the text. "Singin' Billy" was the nickname of shape note composer and publisher William Walker. With George Pullen Jackson he wrote American Folk Music for High School and other Choral Groups.

Bryan's namesake son served as president and CEO of the Virginia Historical Society until retiring in November 2008.

In 1977, an historical marker honoring Bryan was erected in front of the Warren County courthouse in McMinnville. It reads, "A native of Warren County, Bryan was a pioneer in the study of American folk music. Through his talented efforts this distinctively American form of musical expression gained worldwide fame and appreciation. He worked closely with the people of the Southern mountains and coves in the study of this music, but his work earned a permanent place of honor and distinction in the highest ranks of academic and scholarly achievement. Presented in his memory by a grateful community."


  • Charles F. Bryan: His Life and Music, by Carolyn Livingston. University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 1-57233-220-4

External links[edit]