Photos by Donna Marie Miller
Celebrities lit up the stage at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin on February 25 for the Texas Medal of Arts Awards gala that honored legendary country performers The Gatlin Brothers and others.
Texas Cultural Trust provided a lifetime achievement award to The Gatlin Brothers–Larry, Steve and Rudy Gatlin–for a musical career that spans nearly 60 years. Blues, rock and pop legend Steve Miller presented the Gatlins with their award while a montage of home videos and vintage photos were displayed on a screen at the back of the stage. Images of the three brothers and their younger sister, LaDonna, dressed in western wear and cowboy hats appeared while their famous rendition of “Swing Down Chariot” played.
Afterwards, the Gatlin Brothers and their bass player Steve Smith performed “All the Gold in California,” the hit that stayed on Billboard magazine’s Hot County Singles chart for ten weeks in 1979. The audience enthusiastically contributed to the familiar chorus.
Steve Gatlin said that, growing up in West Texas, their parents taught the boys Christian values and demonstrated a strong work ethic. He attributed their music education in whole harmony structure, phrasing and enunciation to Texas elementary schools.
Mentioning fellow Texans and Country Hall of Famers Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury and Roger Miller, Larry also praised his former high school teacher and an English professor from the University of Houston. “Those little songs about doggies and horses that I wrote for us and we recorded, I owe to those people who engendered and fostered a love in me for words,” Larry said.
The Gatlin Brothers also performed their 1986 song, “Texas (is What Life’s All About)” that Larry composed together with Lance Legault for the Partners album.
The Cultural Trust also recognized T Bone Burnett and Jamie Foxx among others.
The event, hosted by former Dallas Cowboys hall of fame quarterback Troy Aikman and seven-time Emmy winning sportscaster Joe Buck, drew a star-studded cast of celebrities. Presenters included Steve Miller, former First Lady Laura Bush, and Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson.
– Donna Marie Miller