George Strait, Marcia Ball named Texas State Musicians for 2017, 2018


Country music icon George Strait and longtime Austin roots-blues pianist Marcia Ball have been selected as the Texas State Musicians for 2017 and 2018, respectively, the Texas Commission on the Arts announced this week.

Strait and Ball will be honored at the Capitol with formal House and Senate resolutions on Thursday, which happens to be Strait’s 65th birthday. Also to be honored are Jenny Browne and Carol Coffee Reposa, Texas Poet Laureates for 2017 and 2018, along with four Texas State Visual Artists: Kermit Oliver of Waco and Sedrick Huckaby of Benbrook (two-dimensional) and Austin’s Beverly Penn and Beili Liu (three-dimensional).

“These artists have forged the unique and diverse cultural identity that defines the Texas soul,” state Sen. Jose Menendez said. “Their works enrich the lives of millions of Texans, and their creative spirit and indomitable ambition inspire many more.”

The choice of Strait was surprising only in that 14 other musicians previously have received the honor since the selections began in 2003. One of the top-selling country music artists of all time, Strait got his start in San Marcos in the 1970s before becoming a breakout star in the ’80s. He recently retired from touring but is still releasing records and makes occasional special live appearances.

RELATED: The Texas Bracket: George Strait voted most Texan

Ball, 68, was born in Orange, Texas, but raised in Louisiana, absorbing much of that state’s blues and jazz musical influences as a young piano player. She moved to Austin in the 1970s and fronted Freda & the Firedogs, an eclectic country-roots band at the forefront of Austin’s cosmic-cowboy heyday. She’s lived here ever since, recording more than a dozen solo records along with several collaborative albums.

Candidates are nominated by the general public, after which the Commission on the Arts chooses the artists through a series of committee processes. Selections are made every two years, during the legislative session.

Strait and Ball follow blues guitar great Jimmie Vaughan and country-folk-rock troubadour Joe Ely, who served in 2015 and 2016. The title is primarily an honorary distinction, with no specific duties attached.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Donning red shoes to help nonprofit
Donning red shoes to help nonprofit

Guests of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Central Texas’ Red Shoe Luncheon raised $85,000 on Tuesday to support its programs. About 275 women, and a few men, donned red shoes from sandals to cowboy boots at the third annual event at Brazos Hall to support the nonprofit group, which provides compassionate care and resources to children and...
Austin ISD is banking on bond to boost enrollment, turn around schools
Austin ISD is banking on bond to boost enrollment, turn around schools

Natural lighting, movable furniture, state-of-the art technology, and open and collaborative learning spaces. That kind of learning environment is what Austin district leaders envision for their campuses of the future. The average Austin school building is 40 years old. Many of the classroom spaces still resemble industrial-era classrooms with their...
Answers to your questions about graffiti abatement in Austin

Austin’s Graffiti Park at Castle Hill is officially the city’s only open canvas for spray painters to express themselves. But when graffiti pops up in neighborhoods and on private property, it’s considered vandalism. Questions often arise about how to handle graffiti, so here are some of the answers we’ve found: What counts...
AISD LAND FOR SALE: Alamo Drafthouse eyes former school site for HQ
AISD LAND FOR SALE: Alamo Drafthouse eyes former school site for HQ

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is seeking to move its headquarters to the Baker Center, one of 40 bids and proposals for 10 of the Austin school district’s surplus properties that remain in negotiations. Baker, a former school built in 1911, had a minimum bid of $10.6 million. Alamo was among the six bidders, and one of three (including the city) that...
HAPPENING TODAY: UT stabbing suspect to appear in court
HAPPENING TODAY: UT stabbing suspect to appear in court

University of Texas stabbing suspect Kendrex White is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday afternoon to address matters in his murder case. Court documents do not give reason for the 1:30 p.m. hearing. A prosecutor who is working on the case declined comment Thursday. White, a 21-year-old biology student, is accused of killing 19-year-old Harrison...
More Stories