Banjo Player and Composer
2014 USA Fellow
This award was generously supported by Susan V. Berresford.
Alison Brown is a Grammy Award-winning banjo player from Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to being an exceptional player whose music has taken the banjo far beyond its Appalachian roots, she is also a scholar of the instrument who wrote her undergraduate thesis at Harvard on Bluegrass Music as a Reflection of Social Change in Appalachia post World War II. Alison’s overarching ambition, to bring the banjo into the mainstream, is accomplished through her music and performances as well as through her work as a producer and as co-founder of Compass Records. While her playing style is rooted in traditional bluegrass banjo technique, she delights in bringing jazz, Celtic and world music influences into her sound. Alison has also worked extensively with Alison Krauss, The Indigo Girls and Michelle Shocked. She is a strong advocate for female musicians particularly within the male dominated bluegrass culture. Before devoting her life to the banjo she put her MBA degree to work as an investment banker. The Alison Brown Quartet has appeared at the Newport Folk Festival, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, the Kennedy Center, the Grand Ole Opry and alongside several major symphony orchestras.
Portrait photo by Jody Spence.