Hal Cannon is the founding director of the Western Folklife Center and its famous child, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. He has published a dozen books and recordings on the folk arts of the West including his best-selling anthology, Cowboy Poetry, A Gathering.
Cannon is heard regularly on National Public Radioís Weekend Edition Sunday with his series Whatís in a Song and other stories. A recent television documentary, Why the Cowboy Sings, was awarded both an Emmy Award and the Golden Special Judges Prize at the Houston International Film Festival and was broadcast nationally on PBS. A new music special, Red Rock Rondo: A Zion Canyon Song Cycle, comes out in the spring of 2009.
He has been awarded three Wrangler Awards from the Cowboy Hall of Fame; the Will Rogers Lifetime Achievement Award; the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Utah communications department; and the Utah Governorís Awards in both the arts and the humanities.
As a musician, Cannon founded the Desert String Band/Bunkhouse Orchestra, whose specialty was 19th-century folk music from the West. Together for 30 years, the band released several recordings and toured extensively in Europe and the United States, having been the official band for the America's Cup winning team, America/3. They also performed at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. He now plays with Red Rock Rondo and writes songs.
Cannon and his wife, Teresa Jordan, live in an old Craftsman-style home in Salt Lake City.