Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens and K.T. Oslin are this year's Hall of Fame Texas Heritage Songwriters Association honorees, each to be honored at a weekend-long celebration in Austin June 21-22.
The event centers on an awards show/concert June 22 at ACL Live at the Moody Theatre spotlighting the life and works of each of the three newly enshrined artists.
Milby High School grad and Grammy winner K.T. Oslin got her start in the 1960s Houston folk scene, where she often performed as a duet partner with musician-inventor-studio whiz Frank Davis, creator of the "daddy banjo" and later the studio engineer at many a legendary Thirteenth Floor Elevator session.
She also once performed in a trio with David Jones and Guy Clark, a previous TxHSA honoree. After a long stint in musical theater in New York, Oslin moved to Nashville to try her hand at Music City songwriting. There she hit it big with "80's Ladies," which won her the first of her three Grammys.
Outlaw hoss Jennings and Owens hardly need introduction. Both members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Jennings is best remembered for his foot-stomping, warm and driving, phase-shifted honky-tonkers such as "Ramblin' Man," "Lonesome On'ry and Mean," and "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line" as well as more tender tunes such as the anthemic "Luckenbach Texas" (which he came to hate late in life) and the classic weeper "Wurlitzer Prize."
Perhaps a better song-selecter and performer than composer, Waylon did have his moments with the pen, possibly enough to merit inclusion even if he never sang a note on stage: "Rainy Day Woman," "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?", Willie Nelson co-write "Good Hearted Woman," "I've Always Been Crazy," and the Dukes of Hazzard theme all bear his name. Jennings's widow Jessi Colter and their son Shooter Jennings will be performing in his memory, as will...none other than Kris Kristofferson, a previous honoree and former Highwaymen bandmate of Jennings's, along with Willie and Johnny Cash.
Before heading west in the Dust Bowl migration and helping invent the big-beat, stripped-down, rock and roll–infused Bakersfield Sound, Buck Owens spent his childhood in North Texas. Those under 45 will remember him best for his appearances on Hee Haw—where he strummed that red, white, and blue guitar, so reminiscent of a Bomb Pop—and his late renaissance brought on by acolyte Dwight Yoakum, but older folks remember his true glory days, back when genius guitarist/fiddler Don Rich was leading backing band the Buckaroos.
Of his 21 #1 country hits, perhaps his most memorable is "I've Got a Tiger for the Tail," mainly because its B-side was "Crying Time." That song did not chart for Owens but was soon recorded by Ray Charles, and it remains a standout cut from Brother Ray's stellar country phase. (It won two Grammys—oddly enough, in the R&B category.)
Owens disciple Lee Roy Parnell and Houston-bred singer Bonnie Bishop will perform along with a band of Bakersfield-steeped Austin top guns.
Previous inductees include many with Houston ties: 2012's class of Robert Earl Keen, Townes Van Zandt, and Lyle Lovett were all either natives or near-natives of the city.
And soapbox time... In looking at the list of inductees all on one computer screen, it kind of jumps out at you that of the 30 members of this hall, Oslin will be the first woman, and so far, no Latinos or African American Texans have been or are scheduled to be inducted.
There's always next year....