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 celebrates a Texas songwriter who helped re-write some of the country’s best-loved songs.
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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David Guion was born in Ballinger, Texas, on Dec. 15, 1892. He showed a keen interest in music as a child and went on to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Vienna, Austria. Although he was classically trained, Guion often composed, arranged and performed songs that were rooted in the folk music of his native state. During the 1920s and 1930s, he rewrote several older tunes, including “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” “A Home on the Range,” “Turkey in the Straw” and “Arkansas Traveler” and helped popularize them around the world. Guion also composed his own music, which included full orchestral works, as well as smaller pieces for piano and ballet. Guion’s pioneering work in collecting and transcribing folk music from a variety of ethnic genres earned him acclaim from the academic community. In recognition of his skills as a composer, arranger, historian and educator, David Guion was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from Howard Payne University in 1950.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a woman who became the youngest singer to score a number one hit on the R&B charts.