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

Bar owner from Austin accused of raping customer in Fort Worth
Bar owner from Austin accused of raping customer in Fort Worth

An Austin business owner is accused of sexually assaulting a patron last December at a bar he owns in Fort Worth, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Tarrant County. Israel Espiricueta, 41, the owner of the Library Bar in downtown Fort Worth and another bar in Austin, was arrested while in Travis County on Feb. 5 and charged with sexual assault...
Crispin Harmel gets life sentence for killing Jessika Kalaher in 2009
Crispin Harmel gets life sentence for killing Jessika Kalaher in 2009

Relatives of Jessika Kalaher calmly admonished Crispin Harmel after he was sentenced Tuesday night to life in prison for her strangulation death in Cedar Park in 2009. “You have a chance to still breathe,” Kalaher’s father, Richard Kalaher, told Harmel. “You are lucky, because I wanted the death penalty because my daughter is...
Lake Travis boaters, be wary of heat, hidden hazards, officials say
Lake Travis boaters, be wary of heat, hidden hazards, officials say

Central Texas boaters and swimmers heading out to Lake Travis this Memorial Day weekend should be wary of extreme heat and a treacherous hodgepodge of hazards — both natural and human-made — beneath the water. Boaters in shaded coves or under the blazing sun on the lake should bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Temperatures could reach...
Lawsuit: GOP judge fired secretary for anti-Trump Facebook posts
Lawsuit: GOP judge fired secretary for anti-Trump Facebook posts

A federal lawsuit claims that a longtime secretary was illegally fired last year because her boss, a Republican judge on the state’s highest criminal court, disapproved of her Facebook posts disparaging President Donald Trump and other GOP politicians. Olga Zuniga argued that her Facebook activity, which included support for Democrats, was done...
Wilco deputies looking for man who tried to kidnap girl

WILLIAMSON COUNTY Sheriff: Man tried to kidnap girl A man tried to kidnap an 8-year-old girl in the Brushy Creek area Tuesday evening, Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody said. The girl was near some community mailboxes in the area of O’Connor and Pocono drives when a man parked nearby, grabbed her arm and told her to get into his car, Chody...
More Stories