Peter Guralnick - December 2017 Commencement Speaker

Peter Guralnick has been called “a national resource” by critic Nat Hentoff for work that has argued passionately and persuasively for the vitality of this country’s intertwined black and white musical traditions.  His books include the prize-winning two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love.  Of the first Bob Dylan wrote, “Elvis steps from the pages. You can feel him breathe. This book cancels out all others.”  Other books include an acclaimed trilogy on American roots music, Feel Like Going Home, Lost Highway, and Sweet Soul Music; the biographical inquiry Searching for Robert Johnson; and the novel Nighthawk Blues.  His 2005 biography entitled Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke was hailed as “monumental, panoramic, an epic tale told against a backdrop of brilliant, shimmering music, intense personal melodrama, and vast social changes.”  His biography of Sam Phillips, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, was published in November 2015 and was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the New York Times.

 Mr. Guralnick won a Grammy for his liner notes for Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club, wrote and co-produced the documentary Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, and wrote the scripts for the Grammy-winning documentary Sam Cooke/Legend and for Martin Scorsese’s blues documentary Feel Like Going Home.  He taught Creative Writing at Vanderbilt University from 2005 to 2016 and is a recent inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame.

Peter Guralnick