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

2 kids dressed as 'tall man' unable to gain admission to 'Black Panther'
2 kids dressed as 'tall man' unable to gain admission to 'Black Panther'

Two kids decided they wanted to go to the new Marvel superhero film “Black Panther,” but they didn’t want to pay for two movie tickets. So, they tried to dupe the movie theater’s manager. The duo went to the theater disguised as one “tall man” under a trench coat, but unsurprisingly, their plan didn’t work...
POLICE: Shots fired at Pflugerville apartment on Friday
POLICE: Shots fired at Pflugerville apartment on Friday

Pflugerville police are seeking any information about shots that rang out at Sage Apartments off of Foothill Farms Loop on Friday around 7 p.m. A man, possibly 6 feet tall with a skinny build wearing a dark top with a mini afro and no facial hair, was seen leaving the scene by getting into the passenger seat of a blue 4-door car with chrome trim and...
No charge: JetBlue offers to fly Parkland victims' families to South Florida
No charge: JetBlue offers to fly Parkland victims' families to South Florida

JetBlue is offering to fly families of victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting free to the South Florida area. The company announced that it would fly families free via its Family Assistance Center, and would also provide access to free ground transportation with Lyft. Last Wednesday, 17 people were killed Wednesday by a 19-year-old...
Stoneman Douglas High School will reopen Feb. 22 to staff
Stoneman Douglas High School will reopen Feb. 22 to staff

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed Wednesday by a gunman, will reopen Thursday, according to a statement from Broward County Public Schools. Only staff members will be allowed back on the sprawling campus in northwest Broward County. There is no mention in the statement when students will be permitted to return...
Pennsylvania teen rescued from wind caves
Pennsylvania teen rescued from wind caves

A Pennsylvania teen who was trapped inside wind caves in Lancaster County was rescued after eight hours, WHTM reported Sunday. Dispatchers said the 15-year-old boy, who was with a group of friends and adults, became trapped about 250 feet into the wind caves in Martic Township around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Lancaster Online reported. Tony...
More Stories