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This Week in Texas Music History: Maud Cuney-Hare

Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet one of the state’s first African-American folklorists.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

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Maud Cuney-Hare was born in Galveston on Feb. 16, 1874. Her father, Norris Wright Cuney, was chairman of the Texas Republican Party and one of the most prominent African-American politicians in the South. During the 1890s, Maud studied at the New England Conservatory of Music before returning to Texas to teach. She devoted much of her time to the musical folklore of French-speaking African Americans living along the Texas- Louisiana border. These black creoles, who were the descendants of French-owned slaves, blended African and French musical influences into what would eventually become known as zydeco.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Maud Cuney-Hare published books on African-American music, wrote a column for the NAACP journal The Crisis and authored a biography about her famous father.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll resin up the bow with one of Western swing’s jazziest fiddlers.