Tennessee folklorist receives nation's top folk arts honor

Sep 5, 2019

Clyde Davenport and Bobby Fulcher play at Pickett State Park Old Timers Day, Sept. 3, 2006. (Courtesy: Bobby Fulcher)
Credit Fulcher

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- A Tennessee park ranger and folklorist has been named a 2019 National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Ranger Bobby Fulcher has spent four decades documenting the work of Tennessee’s traditional artists. One of his biggest finds was musician Dee Hicks. Fulcher learned that Hicks had more than 100 folk songs committed to memory.


Fulcher explained to WMOT in 2014 why he found the work rewarding.

“You found something. You heard it, then other people heard it, and they fell in love with it. You’re a part of that. That’s a wonderful feelin’,”

Much of Fulcher's collection is now housed in a temperature and humidity controled vault under the Tennessee State Archives. If the items contained in that collection were stacked atop each other they would reach the height of a 14 story building.


Bobby Fulcher will receive his lifetime honor from the NEA September 18 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.


NPR carried a lengthy story WMOT aired about Fulcher's work in 2014. You'll find that story linked below.