Biography of Robert Hicks


I was born and raised in South Florida. My parents filled our home with books. When I was sick and stayed home from school, my dad would give me volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica or Bartlett's Familiar Quotations to cuddle up in bed with, instead of a diet of TV. Books were held to be sacred and precious. Christmases and birthdays were always times of book-giving and book-receiving. One of the first books to have a lasting impact on me (beyond the Bible, which seems to have anchored every Southern home of my generation) was Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels. I still attribute my passion for travel and adventure to the nights I fell asleep reading of Halliburton's world-wide adventures.

Many of my lifelong favorites can be found on any seventh or eighth grade reading list of my time: C. S. Lewis' SPACE TRILOGY, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and ALL THE KING'S MEN taught me about the value of goodness and truth. MOBY DICK and LORD OF THE FLIES, taught me to read. Ayn Rand's ANTHEM made me think about what it meant to be an individual. All these were to impact my life forever.

In high school I discovered biography, reading books about Robert E. Lee, NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDER and the CONFESSIONS by St. Augustine to name a few. This passion for biography has continued through the years with books like Peter Guralnick's two-volume biography of Elvis; to a recent read, SURVIVING THE CONFEDERACY, about Roger and Sarah Pryor.

James Webb's FIELDS OF FIRE had a profound impact on me, since it brought me closer to the idea that I might be a writer someday myself. His most recent book, BORN FIGHTING, has taught me a bit more about myself through my culture heritage. I struggled through William Faulkner's THE SOUND AND THE FURY in college, but once I was done, I was hooked on Faulkner forever.

While my taste ranges from Smith's VITRUVIUS ON ARCHITECTURE to John Ruskin's THE STONES OF VENICE, I can get hooked on poplar culture like anyone else and was absorbed enough after reading John Berendt's MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL to make the mandatory pilgrimage to Savannah.

Point is, my reading interests remain as encyclopedic as the books my dad left on bedside table so many years ago.

In 1974 I moved to Williamson County, Tennessee []. Then in 1979 I moved to 'Labor in Vain,' a late-eighteenth-century log cabin on the edge of the woods, in a hollow near Leiper's Fork, Tennessee.

Working as a music publisher and in artist management in both country and rock music, my interests remain broad and varied. A partner in the B. B. King's Blues Clubs [] in Nashville, Memphis and Los Angeles, I serve as 'Curator of Vibe' of the corporation.

Born out of my passion for this life – throughout all the ages, I'm a collector, by nature. I've collected since I was a kid. It began with fossilized shells from our driveway to rocks and leaves and baseball cards to books, 18th century maps of Tennessee, Tennesseana in general, Southern decorative arts and material culture, to Outsider Art. I am surrounded by collections. A friend says the next thing I bring home must come with a crow bar to get it into my cabin. My older brother once said that I'd "inherited more of the 'hunter-gatherer' genes than most other kids."

I served as co-curator (with Ben Caldwell and Mark Scala) on the exhibition, Art of Tennessee, at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. The exhibition was a seven-year endeavor from conception at my kitchen table to its opening in September 2003. I was co-editor of the exhibition’s award-winning catalog, Art of Tennessee (UT Press, September 2003).

In the field of historic preservation, I have served on the Boards of Historic Carnton Plantation [], the Tennessee State Museum, The Williamson County Historical Society, and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. []

In December 1997, after a third term as President of the Carnton board, and in light of my work at Carnton, I was honored by my fellow-board members with a resolution calling me "the driving force in the restoration and preservation of Historic Carnton Plantation."

For the past two years, I've headed up Franklin's Charge: A Vision and Campaign for the Preservation of Historic Open Space [] in the fight to secure and preserve both battlefield and other historic open space in Williamson County. Franklin's Charge has taken on the massive mission of saving what remains of the eastern flank of the battlefield at Franklin – the largest remaining undeveloped fragment of the battlefield – and turning it into public battlefield park which will, in my dreams, eventually run from the Lotz and Carter Houses [] on Columbia Avenue to Ft. Granger and Carnton Plantation, with significant holdings around Breezy and Winstead Hills.[]