Brian is a historian of the modern US South, the civil rights movement, popular music, the 1960s, and Anglo-American cultural relations. He is Professor in American Studies at Northumbria University and a former Chair of the British Association for American Studies. Previously, he held the Chair in American Studies at the University of Manchester (2006-2012), served as Head of the Department of History at the University of Florida (2000-2006), and taught at the Universities of Newcastle upon Tyne (1991-2000) and Durham (1990-91).
Brian has published 10 books, including the multiple award-winning Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness and Race Relations (1998) and more recently Martin Luther King in Newcastle: The African American Freedom Struggle and Race Relations in the North East of England (2017) and A&R Pioneers: Architects of American Popular Music on Record (2018), co-authored with Patrick Huber. His next book, due in 2024, is provisionally entitled She Loves Y'all: The Beatles and the US South.
He has also developed MOOCs on the American South and Global Geordies on the history, politics and culture of the North East of England.