Dr. Neil Rosenberg
Dr. Neil Rosenberg
Department of Folkore
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's, NL
A native of the western United States, Rosenberg has a BA in History from Oberlin College and the MA and PhD in Folklore from Indiana University. He is Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, where he taught from September 1968 until his retirement in September 2004.
Rosenberg specialized in the study of contemporary folk music traditions, investigating the ways in which popular music interacts with local and regional folk music traditions, and examining processes of cultural revival.
He conducted research in Canada and the United States, focusing upon the lives and music of professional, semi-professional and amateur old-time, bluegrass, country and folk musicians. A performing musician since childhood, Rosenberg utilized his skills and experiences in bluegrass, country, folk, jazz, classical and experimental music to gain a closer understanding of the processes he studied.
His books include Bluegrass: A History (1985), the definitive work on that form of music, which was reprinted with a new preface for its 20th Anniversary Edition in 2005. Other books include Transforming Tradition (1993), a collection of studies on North American folk music revivals; and Bluegrass Odyssey: A Documentary in Pictures and Words (2001), co-authored with photographer Carl Fleischhauer of the Library of Congress. In 1996 he began working with the late Charles Wolfe on The Music of Bill Monroe, a bio-discography published in 2007 that updates and expands his long out-of-print Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys: An Illustrated Discography (1974). He has published over sixty articles and review essays. In 1981 he originated the column "Thirty Years Ago This Month" in Bluegrass Unlimited, and wrote it until 1993.
Formerly Recorded Sound Reviews Editor of the Journal of American Folklore, he has edited and written notes for many recordings, including a contribution to the brochure for the Smithsonian/Folkways reissue of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music for which he won a 1997 Grammy Award. His most recent project is Saturday Night Jamboree on CBC Newfoundland, which he produced for Memorial University's Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place.
Rosenberg is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, and recipient of the Marius Barbeau Medal for lifetime achievement from the Folklore Studies Association of Canada.
In 2004, Rosenberg's friends and colleagues from the worlds of folklore studies and bluegrass music honored him with a collection of their essays and articles in the book Bean Blossom to Bannerman: Odyssey of a Folklorist. Edited by Martin Lovelace, Peter Narváez and Diane Tye, this MUN Folklore and Language Publication includes a brief biography of Rosenberg and a full bibliography of his writings.