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2019 Highlight - The Keynote Address

2019 Highlights

Keynote Address

Thursday, January 31, 2019, 9:15-10:30am, Elko Convention Center Auditorium
Free with the purchase of a Deluxe or Day Pass


Every year, the keynote address sets the tone for the Gathering, featuring speakers whose words and work embody the substance and creativity of living life in the American West. Presented in collaboration with Great Basin College and sponsored by Nevada Humanities, this year’s celebratory keynote features founding director Hal Cannon’s personal journey into the fieldwork and exploration that brought an extraordinary cast of characters together to create the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1985.

Filled with voices, images and transcendent moments from the Western Folklife Center’s archive, Hal’s keynote is both about preserving tradition and about the quest to find truth and beauty in the creative voices of everyday people.

About Hal Cannon

Hal Cannon is a musician & composer, but has also spent much of his life as a folklorist and radio producer. As the founding Director of the Western Folklife Center and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, he has published dozens of books and recordings on the folk arts of the West.

He has received three Wrangler Awards from the Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Will Rogers Lifetime Achievement Award, the American Folklore Society’s Botkin Award, a distinguished Alumni Award at the University of Utah and the Utah Governor’s Awards in both the arts and humanities.  He has co-produced over one-hundred features for NPR and PBS with Taki Telonidis and has been an independent documentary producer for Australia’s Radio National.

Since retiring from the Western Folklife Center, Hal’s life has revolved around music. A lifetime of listening and studying the American West informs his songs. He performs primarily with the 3hattrio singing and playing banjo and guitar.  The trio has met with critical praise and has toured major festivals in Europe.

Hal lives with his wife Teresa Jordan in Virgin, Utah where they raise a few Navajo Churro Sheep and beef cattle.