Academy of Western Artists

The Academy of Western Artists, based in Gene Autry, [1]Oklahoma, is an organization that honors individuals who have preserved and perpetuated the heritage of the American cowboy, through rodeo, music, poetry, campfire and chuckwagon cooking, and western and ranch clothing and gear.

The academy seeks to preserve the traditional values associated with the cowboy image despite consolidation in the cattle industry and changes in contemporary society. The group hosts an annual awards show. Its director is the western publisher Bobby Newton.[2]

In 1996, the academy began making annual awards at a gathering in Fort Worth, Texas, specifically to recognize the performers and artisans active in the contemporary cowboy and western movement. The awards have been received by more than 500 individuals in a variety of categories.[3]R.W. Hampton received the first Will Rogers Awards, named for the cowboy humorist Will Rogers. He was both "Male Vocalist of the Year" and "Entertainer of the Year" in 1996. A year later, Hampton's album, Ridin' The Dreamland Range, was honored as the association's Album of the Year. Hampton won "Male Vocalist of the Year" again in 1999, 2002, and 2006.[4]

The 2011 winner, honored early in 2012 at the 16th annual awards presentation, include Bruce Pollock (radio disc jockey), Henry Real Bird and Bette Wolf Duncan (poetry books, Horse Tracks and Dakota, respectively), The Nugents (young artists), Syd Masters (male singer), and Mary Kaye (female singer), Jimmy Burson and Joni Harms (Western swing), Stardust Cowboys (Western album "Riding Back to You"), Curtis Potter (Country album, "The Potter's Touch"), and B. K. Nuzum (chuckwagon).[5]

Since 2008, the academy has presented the Will Rogers Medallion Award. This award recognizes outstanding western literature, including books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, and works for younger readers. One of the 2012 winners is Will Rogers - a Political Life by Richard D. White of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, published by the Texas Tech University Press in Lubbock, Texas.[6]

On March 29, 2014, the academy presented its first annual fiction and non-fiction Western book awards named in honor of the late novelist Elmer Kelton of San Angelo, Texas.[7]

Similar in scope to the Academy of Western Artists is the Western Music Association, incorporated in Arizona in 1989, which maintains its own Hall of Fame.[8]

On March 28, 2015, the Academy will meet in Irving, Texas. Among those being honored is the western author Patrick Dearen, whose 2014 novel The Big Drift will receive the Elmer Kelton Fiction Book of the Year award.[9]


  1. ^ The community of Gene Autry was known as Berwyn from 1887 to 1941.
  2. ^ "Academy of Western Artists". Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  3. ^ "About the Academy". Archived from the original on January 31, 2012. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  4. ^ "Western Music Awards". Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  5. ^ "16th Annual Awards Show Winners". Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  6. ^ "Will Rogers Medallion Award". Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  7. ^ "Elmer Kelton Book Award". Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  8. ^ "Western Music Association and Academy of Western Artists". Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  9. ^ The Big Drift. Fort Worth, Texas: Texas Christian University Press. 2014. p. 192. ISBN 9780875655703. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
Arthur Roy Mitchell

Arthur Roy Mitchell (December 18, 1889– November 1977) was an American artist and historian who was born on his father's homestead west of Trinidad in Las Animas County in southern Colorado.

Usually known as "Mitch," Mitchell in 1907 began work as a ranch hand in New Mexico. Soon, he was sketching scenes of cowboy and western life and drawing political cartoons for newspapers. After United States Army service in World War I, he traveled to New York City, where he studied at Grand Central School of Art under Harvey Dunn. By 1940, he had created more than 160 cover paintings for Western pulp magazines. During the summers, Mitchell continued to paint in the American Southwest and often invited his mentor Dunn to come to Colorado to sketch the landscapes.In 1944, Mitchell returned to Trinidad and launched the first art class at Trinidad State Junior College, where he remained on the faculty until 1958. In 1959, he designed the official "Rush to the Rockies" emblem commemorating the 1859 Colorado gold rush centered about Cripple Creek in the Rocky Mountains. He also sought to preserve and restore historic Trinidad buildings, including the Baca House, the home of the founder of Trinidad, the Bloom Mansion, and the Pioneer Museum. He was the curator for the Trinidad Historic District until 1975.In 1972, he was named an honorary member of Cowboy Artists of America. In 1973, he was one of twenty-four academics entered into the National Academy of Western Artists. In 1974, he received the Honorary Trustees Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as "the man who has done the most for Southwest history" through his paintings.Four years after his death, the A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art was opened in 1981 on the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway at 150 East Main Street in downtown Trinidad at the location of the former Jamieson Department Store. The museum displays some 250 of his major works, which are similar in theme to the better known western artists Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. The lifelong bachelor called his paintings "my children."Among his displayed works, none of which are dated in the museum collection, are When Nights Are Long, Lazy Day, Shadows at the Longhorn, Homeward Bound, Morning Friskies, The Get-Away, Bulldogger, Holdup at First National Bank, and Driving off Rustlers.

In 1975, Mitchell retired to Denver, where he died two years later and is interred. Mitchell's sister, Ethel "Tot" Erickson (1892–1982), laid the groundwork for opening the museum in his honor, completing the task only a year before her own passing.Mitchell once summed up his legacy, accordingly: "You look over the back trail, and you see the fine friends you've made, and you see you've managed to make a living doing something you really loved; so how could anyone ask for more?"

Brenn Hill

Brenn Hill (born May 26, 1976 in Ogden, Utah) is an American Western music singer-songwriter specialising in country and cowboy music.. He won the Western Music Association Crescendo Award in 2001 and was named the 2004 Academy of Western Artists Male Vocalist of the Year.

Buck Ramsey

Buck Ramsey (January 9, 1938 – January 3, 1998), born Kenneth Melvin Ramsey, was an American cowboy poet and singer. He earned a national reputation for preserving cowboy lore and traditions.


A chuckwagon is a type of "field kitchen" covered wagon historically used for the storage and transportation of perishable food and cooking equipment on the prairies of the United States and Canada. Such wagons formed part of a wagon train of settlers or fed traveling workers such as cowboys or loggers.

In modern times, chuckwagons feature in certain cooking competitions and events. Chuckwagons are also used in a type of horse racing known as chuckwagon racing.

Cindy Cashdollar

Cindy Cashdollar is an American non-pedal steel guitar and Dobro musician. She grew up in Woodstock, New York where she perfected her skills by playing with bluegrass musician John Herald, blues musician Paul Butterfield, and Levon Helm and Rick Danko of The Band. After residing in Austin, Texas for 23 years, she has now returned to her native Woodstock, New York.

Cashdollar received five Grammy awards while playing for eight years with Asleep at the Wheel, and has also backed such noted performers as Bob Dylan, Leon Redbone, Redd Volkaert and Ryan Adams as a member of his band The Cardinals. In 2003, the Academy of Western Artists recognized Cashdollar as Instrumentalist of the Year Award in the Western Swing Music genre. She was inducted into The Austin Chronicle Hall of Fame in 2011-12.She authored a series of instructional videos on her instruments and released her first solo album, Slide Show, in 2004. Cashdollar currently makes guest appearances on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, conducts workshops nationwide, and plays in a number of musical venues around Austin, Texas.During the fall of 2004 she was a member of Ryan Adams's band The Cardinals playing the steel guitar live on stage. She also went into the studio with this band and played on the album Cold Roses, although she didn't tour the album with Adams & The Cardinals and was replaced in 2005 by Jon Graboff.From 2005-08, Cashdollar played with Elana James, Redd Volkaert (and, sometimes, Nate Rowe), as The High Flyers, appearing on A Prairie Home Companion twice, as well as playing Austin area venues.In 2006, she toured with Van Morrison promoting his country and western album, Pay the Devil. She appeared with him at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, on September 15, 2006 (subsequently released on Val Morrison's Live at Austin City Limits Festival limited edition recording), and on the television show Austin City Limits featuring Van Morrison, broadcast in November 2006. Cashdollar plays steel guitar on two of the tracks on Morrison's March 2008 studio album, Keep It Simple. She is an eponymous member of Dave Alvin's 2009 project, Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women.

Dan Roberts (singer)

Dan Roberts is a solo artist and songwriter. He has penned numerous Billboard chart songs including several for Garth Brooks.

Prior to moving to Nashville, Tennessee, Roberts spent time briefly as an amateur bronco rider. In Nashville, Roberts teamed up with Brooks and Bryan Kennedy to write the number one hit "The Beaches of Cheyenne". Brooks signed Roberts and Kennedy to a two-year deal to open his world tour in 1996-97. The duo opened more Garth Brooks shows than any other opening act in Brooks' career. Following the tour, Roberts wrote an album for himself titled There's a Little Cowboy in All of Us. He followed this up with a second CD, which charted on both Gavin and Billboard.

His third CD, Viva La Cowboy was in contention for three Grammy nominations in 2004 and featured two chart singles on the Texas Music Chart, "I'm the One to Call" and "Swingin' Till We Can't See Strait".

His music career and life took on new meaning after his daughter, Austin, fought and won a two-year battle with brain cancer. Dan and his wife Carol established the Refuse To Lose Fund with the goal to raise $4.5 million to purchase the same technology that saved his daughters life at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, and bring it to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Roberts has had two more albums, Beyond the Brand and Family, Faith & Freedom, which he says is a tribute to the music that shaped his life. A compilation album, The Best Of, is his latest release.

Official website of Dan Roberts -

Gene Autry, Oklahoma

Gene Autry is a town in Carter County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 158 as of the 2010 census, up from 99 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Ardmore, Oklahoma Micropolitan Statistical Area.

George Hurst (artist)

George Hurst is an American leather artist known for his contributions to leathercraft instruction. With nearly 8 million views on his leatherworking tutorial videos on YouTube, Hurst is recognized internationally as a teacher. His contributions to the leather industry over the last 50 years have been recognized with an Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft, the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Federation of Leather Guilds, and the Master Leather Artisan Award by the Academy of Western Artists.

Jim Linnell

Jim Linnell is a leather craftsman who has dedicated much of his life to the promotion of leather working as an art form.Linnell was raised in southeastern Montana, where he was first introduced to leather working in an industrial arts class in Junior High. He enjoyed working with leather and began making small projects that he would sell to classmates at enough of a profit to buy a new tool or pattern. After high school, he worked at Boyd’s Boot and Saddle in Miles City, Montana for several years, where he made custom leather goods and taught classes.

Juni Fisher

Juni Fisher (born c. 1956) is a western and folk singer-songwriter.

She has received ten awards from the Western Music Association: the Crescendo Award (2005), Female Performer of the Year (2006, 2009, 2011), Song of the Year (2007, 2011, 2013), Songwriter of the Year (2008) and Album of the Year (2009)and Entertainer of the Year (2011). In addition, the Academy of Western Artists named her Female Performer of the Year in 2005.

The National Cowboy Museum awarded Fisher with the coveted Western Heritage "Wrangler Award" in 2009 for Most Outstanding Western Album, making her the first female recipient of that award in the history of the National Cowboy Museum's awards. True West Magazine named her the Most Outstanding Solo Artist of 2012. She was awarded the Western Writers of America Song of the Year in 2014 award for a song she co-wrote with Cowboy Poet Waddie Mitchell.

Larry Scott (radio personality)

Larry Scott (September 27, 1938 in Modesto, California – July 10, 2016 in Oak Ridge, Texas) was an American country music disc jockey who hosted a number of country music shows in the U.S. First announcing on a radio station in Neosho, Missouri in 1955, Scott later moved to the west coast where he worked at radio stations KBBQ and KLAC from 1967 to 1982.

Scott was noted in country music circles for hosting The Interstate Road Show which aired overnight on KWKH from Shreveport, Louisiana and on KVOO (now KFAQ) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The show involved a mix of country music, news, vital weather reports and road conditions for truckers that were on the road. Mr. Scott is also known as a devotee of Western swing music and hosted Western Swing revival shows across the Southwestern United States. The most recent show honoring this genre occurred in Wichita Falls, Texas in 2006.

Larry Scott also released an album of truck driving songs for Alshire Records in 1972 titled Keep On Truckin' (A/S). One song on the LP, "Phantom 570," alluded to his Phantom 570 truckers' show in which he played host on KLAC (570) radio in Los Angeles. A popular track from the album was "Diesel Cecil."

Larry Scott was retired from the radio business for a time and ran a trucking service out of Terrell, Texas. He returned to Shreveport to host several one-hour shows on KWKH on Sunday mornings until KWKH instituted a format change to sports talk in May 2012.

Larry Scott received the Deejay of the Year 1981 from the Country Music Association and from the Academy of Country Music Disc Jockey of the Year (1971, 72) and Radio Personality (1968,74). Larry is also an inductee into the Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Other awards include:

Academy of Western Artists - Disc Jockey 1999

Let the Dance Begin

Let the Dance Begin is an album by Jean Stafford, recorded in Nashville, Tennessee. Initially released as a hard copy CD in 2005 (Australia Limited) the album was officially for released world wide in 2017 with two bonus tracks "You Waltzed Right Into My Heart" & “Cowboy Days”, Let The Dance Begin was produced by Jimmy Crawford, an American steel guitar player. The song "Steelin' The 2 Step" written by Stafford, is a western swing song which mentions Bob Wills from Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys. Jean Stafford won an AWA Award (Academy of Western Artists) for "Steelin' The 2 Step" in 2006. all songs on the album were written by Jean Stafford.

Michael Martin Murphey

Michael Martin Murphey (born March 14, 1945) is an American singer-songwriter best known for writing and performing Western music, country music and popular music. A multiple Grammy nominee, Murphey has six gold albums, including Cowboy Songs, the first album of cowboy music to achieve gold status since Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs by Marty Robbins in 1959. He has recorded the hit singles "Wildfire", "Carolina in the Pines", "What's Forever For", "A Long Line of Love", "What She Wants", "Don't Count the Rainy Days", and "Maybe This Time". Murphey is also the author of New Mexico's state ballad, "The Land of Enchantment". Murphey has become a prominent musical voice for the Western horseman, rancher, and cowboy.

Patrick Dearen

Patrick March Dearen (born May 1, 1951) is an author of 20 books of Western fiction and history. His newest release, the 2012 novel, To Hell or the Pecos, is set along a desolate, 79-mile section of the Butterfield Trail in the Pecos River country of West Texas. To Hell or the Pecos is the 2014 winner of the Elmer Kelton Book Award from the West Texas Historical Association.

R.W. Hampton

R. W. Hampton (born June 17, 1957 in Houston, Texas) is an American western music singer-songwriter, actor and playwright. Hampton has achieved both critical and commercial success, winning multiple awards from the Western Music Association and the Academy of Western Artists and three separate Wrangler Awards from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

A prolific writer and performer, Hampton's wife Lisa doubles as his manager & agent.

Riders in the Sky (band)

Riders in the Sky is an American Western music and comedy group which began performing in 1977.

Their style also appeals to children, and they are sometimes considered a children's band. They have won two Grammy Awards and have written and performed music for major motion pictures, including "Woody's Roundup" from Toy Story 2 and Pixar's short film, For the Birds.

Shoot Low Sheriff

Shoot Low Sheriff is a Western Swing band based in Dallas, Texas. Formed in 2008, the 7-piece group consists of vocalist Erik Swanson (formerly of Cowboys & Indians and the Texas Gypsies), Brandon Lusk (trumpet), Dustin Ballard (fiddle/electric mandolin), Jessica Munn (guitar), Larry Reed (bass), Geoff Vinton (drums), and Wayne Glasson, current pianist for the Texas Playboys and Red Steagall.

The band is heavily influenced by western swing pioneers Bob Wills and Milton Brown, and play a combination of swing standards and original compositions, as well as New Orleans jazz, ragtime and jump blues.

In 2009, their song "Old Alton Rag" was featured in a television commercial for Jack Daniels and in 2012, the band was named "Western Swing Group of the Year" by the Academy of Western Artists.

Tom Lovell

Tom Lovell (5 February 1909 – 29 June 1997) was an American illustrator and painter. He was a creator of pulp fiction magazine covers and illustrations, and of visual art of the American West. He produced illustrations for National Geographic magazine and many others, and painted many historical Western subjects such as interactions between Indians and white settlers and traders. He was inducted into the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame in 1974.

Western Music Association

The Western Music Association was incorporated in 1989 to promote and preserve western music in its traditional, historical, and contemporary forms.

The WMA stages the International Western Music Festival every November during which it announces winners in categories including Traditional Western Duo/Group of the Year, Traditional Western Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Male and Female Performers of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, etc.

It also publishes The Western Way, a magazine dedicated to the promotion of western music, and sponsors the Western Music Association Hall of Fame.

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