Texas music legends recognized for their contributions to country and Texas culture.
By Keri Heath, photos by Jack Plunkett
Last weekend, the Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Association honored its three new inductees into the Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. Artists K.T. Oslin, Buck Owens and Waylon Jennings were recognized June 22 during an awards show at the Moody Theater, featuring performances from Texas music legends.
Founded in 2005 by sixth-generation Texan Terry Boothe, the Texas Songwriters’ Association has honored musicians every year since 2006 that have made significant contributions to country sound and culture. This nonprofit organization not only recognizes important music icons, but also donates to organizations that support Texas songwriters, such as the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. Past inductees include Texas legends such as Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Townes Van Zandt and Willie Nelson. As awards show host, Red Steagall stated in his opening remarks that the event reached back to the roots of Texas culture and honored those who contribute to the cowboy and Lone Star spirit that so many are proud of.
“[Texas] is the greatest place on the face of this earth, and we’re proud of everything that she stands for,” Steagall said. “We have traditions and heritage that we all share, that we treasure and that we try to live up to.”
To truly honor these musicians, the awards show centered on musical performances of each inductee’s work. Oslin took the stage to fill the Moody Theater with her unique style, followed by Lee Roy Parnell and Bonnie Bishop playing songs by Owens. Kris Kristofferson, Shooter Jennings and Jessi Colter followed these musicians with a performance of Waylon Jennings’ music.
The music was interspersed with videos describing the history and importance of the inductees. As friends and acquaintances in the video described, Oslin made her recording debut at age 39 after moving to New York to act. She once played in a folk band with Guy Clark and recorded four No. 1 country singles.
“She’s world-class, as far as the quality of her work, her artistry,” Clark said in the video.
Music experts said similar things about the work of Owens, who pioneered the Bakersfield sound that made such a heavy impact on country and pop music.
“[Owens] had a lot of different styles,” singer Bill Anderson said. “It was hard to pigeon-hole Buck and that led to his success.”
The achievements of Jennings were also honored that evening. Mentored by Buddy Holly, Jennings is recognized for his work in the Outlaws with Willie Nelson and for his opposition to the Nashville recording industry.
That evening, Steagall also acknowledged Bill Mack as the 2014 recipient of the Darrell K. Royal Texas Music Legend Award. A recognized voice in country broadcast radio, Mack wrote songs that have been recorded by more than 60 artists and earned him a Grammy Award. He has been honored with multiple awards for his work as a DJ, and this recognition further proved the enormous influence he has had on Texas music.
The show concluded with a rendition of Happy Birthday for Kristofferson, who celebrated his 78th birthday that evening, adding to the friendly, genial atmosphere of the event.