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, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman remembers a giant in American music who considered Texas his second home.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday 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 KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
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Jimmie Rodgers, often called “the father of modern country music,” was born in Meridian, Miss., on Sept. 8, 1897. Rogers worked on the railroads, where he learned the blues from black laborers. Early in his career, Rodgers toured extensively throughout Texas, blending cowboy songs and southern hillbilly music with the blues he’d grown to love. By the late-1920s, such hits as “T for Texas” made him the most popular country singer in the world. In 1929, Jimmie Rodgers moved to Kerrville, Texas, hoping that the dry climate would slow his advancing tuberculosis. Although he died in 1933, Rodgers was a major inspiration to Gene Autry, Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb and countless others.