Courtney Bryan
Composer and Pianist
New Orleans, LA
2020 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Courtney Bryan is “a pianist and composer of panoramic interests” (New York Times). Bryan’s music is in conversation with various musical genres, including jazz and other types of experimental music, as well as traditional gospel, spirituals, and hymns. Focusing on bridging the sacred and the secular, her compositions explore human emotions through sound, confronting the challenge of notating the feeling of improvisation.

She has academic degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (BM), Rutgers University (MM), Columbia University (DMA) with advisor George Lewis, and completed postdoctoral studies in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. She is currently an assistant professor of music in the Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane University and the Mary Carr Patton Composer-in-Residence with the Jacksonville Symphony.

Her music, ranging from solo to orchestral works, choral music, sound pieces, interdisciplinary collaborations, and jazz improvisations, has been presented in a wide range of venues. She has two recordings, Quest for Freedom and This Little Light of Mine. Bryan was the 2018 music recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, a 2019 Bard College Freehand Fellow, and is currently a 2019 recipient of the Samuel Barber Rome Prize in Music Composition.

Portrait photo by Arielle Pentes.