Category Archives: Charity

Where Did Clay Walker Go?

Although I consider myself a fan of country music, I would not consider myself to being anywhere close to being an expert on this genre of music. Growing up, one of the first artists that I clearly remember listening to along with Keith Urban was Clay Walker. I was able to see him perform once at the Houston Rodeo and then again at the Cynthia Woods Mitchel Pavilion in the Woodlands.

Coming in to the course I had no idea of what I could really expect, nor did I know which artists we would be discussing in class. Although I didn’t have a clue about who we would be covering this semester, I am a bit surprised by the fact that Clay Walker has not been mentioned once throughout the course thus far. Clay Walker was one of the very first artists that I came across when I first started listening to country music. Because I don’t know much about the genre, I decided to take it upon myself to do a bit of research on him to see if I could figure out why he might not be as popular as other artists.

Clay Walker began his professional career in country music began in 1993 with the release of his debut album Clay Walker. As of today, he has released a total of eleven albums with four of them that went platinum and two that went gold. His most recent album titled She Won’t be Lonely Long was released in 2010 which brings up the question: “Where did Clay Walker go?” After doing a little research I discovered that Clay Walker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was only 26 years old and he has been trying to deal with it since then. Since his diagnosis he has attempted to make contributions towards the cure of this disease by  donating money as well as raising awareness about MS through his charity Band Against MS. Although it appears that he has gotten his symptoms of MS under control, the disease only continues to progress as he ages; this might explain why he hasn’t made much of a presence in the country music scene for the past five years.

I decided to put together a few of my favorite songs by Clay Walker for you guys to enjoy.

I would have to say that “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” is my favorite Clay Walker song. It always reminds me of my dad because it features Freddy Fender and for me it just brings back memories of the stories he would tell us about him growing up in Corpus and listening to Freddy Fender all the time. I also like this song because he sings part of it in Spanish and its different from any other song on the album.

Well what can I say about “Fore She Was Mama”? In contrast to the previous songs I chose this one is more of a silly upbeat song about a couple of siblings who were digging around and discovered things about their mom when she was younger. After the boys in the song uncover all of these dirty little secrets they’re shocked and its hard for them to even see her as a young, wild person who she supposedly was because they just see her as their mom.


Filed under Charity, Lists, New Country, Reflection, Texas

Country Fans Turn on Tim McGraw

Sandt HookIn December 2012, a shooter took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults in an assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. It was the deadliest shooting ever to take place in an American public school.

Two and a half years later, the Sandy Hook Promise organization has put together a concert to raise funds for promoting “gun safety”. Charity concerts happen all the time, but this one is stirring controversy because the man that has agreed to headline it is one of the biggest stars in a genre of music whose fans have clung to their right to bear arms even in the face of mass shootings.

That man is Tim McGraw.

News of the concert was spread by the conservative media outlet Breitbart in an article titled “Country Singers Tim McGraw, Billy Currington Headlining Gun Control Fundraiser.” (Currington had been scheduled as the opening act.) In the comments, Breitbart‘s readers expressed their dismay, claiming that McGraw had abandoned the principles of the country music fans that bought his records. Some readers even suggested that his participation in the concert might end his career. As the user WyoAndy put it, “So I guess you will be able to see Tim McGraw and Billy Currington opening for the dixie chicks real soon at the Paramus, Nj holiday inn! They are both dead to me!”

Trigger, over at Saving Country Music, argues that Breitbart is being intentionally inflammatory. McGraw agreed to do the show because he has personal ties to one of the victims of the shooting. Moreover, the concert is raising funds for gun safety, not gun control. After the Breitbart article went viral the organization released a statement clarifying its purposes:

Sandy Hook Promise supports the 2nd Amendment and is not anti-gun. We recognize an individual’s right to bear arms and support millions of law-abiding citizens in the United States who own firearms. Our primary focus is preventing children from being harmed by gun violence…

We support policy that helps identify, intervene and stop at-risk individuals from hurting themselves or others. And, we support laws that will help to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerously ill people and criminals, as well as out of the reach of children to prevent unintentional shooting deaths and injuries that have become much too frequent.

McGraw, in a statement for The Washington Times, takes a similar stance:

Let me be clear regarding the concert for Sandy Hook given much of the erroneous reporting thus far.  As a gun owner, I support gun ownership. I also believe that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety – most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children.  I can’t imagine anyone who disagrees with that…

Through a personal connection, I saw first-hand how the Sandy Hook tragedy affected families and I felt their pain. The concert is meant to do something good for a community that is recovering.

And yet despite these attempts at damage control the concert continues eliciting outrage among fans of country music. Buckling under the pressure, Currington announced on Thursday night that he would not be playing the charity concert though he will open for the other shows on McGraw’s summer tour. Guns rights advocates took Currington’s cancellation as proof that they had been right all along — that the concert had been organized to deprive them of their firearms.

The controversy raises a number of questions that I would love to hear your thoughts about in the comments (or your own posts). Why are guns such a big deal for fans of country music? Do you agree that every “authentic” country performer should support the Second Amendment? Should McGraw have agreed to perform the Sandy Hook Promise concert? Should Currington have pulled out of it?

Most importantly, do you think WyoAndy is right that the controversy signals the end of McGraw’s career? Is he the new Dixie Chicks?


Filed under Charity, Country Pop, News, Politics

Deep in the Heart of Texas

The countdown has long been underway for the 2015 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and it is HERE. Preparations at NRG Stadium can be seen daily. Of course there are many anxious Houstonians, but there will be people from all over the world, including cowboys, livestock exhibitors, commercial exhibitors, suppliers, dignitaries (former US presidents, current ambassadors along with Secret Service agents), and more than 2,500,000 spectators over the three-week-time period of the Show. Rodeo Houston begins with The World’s Champion Barbecue Competition that features more than 1,000 cook-off teams. Following the cook off, there will be performances by some of the biggest names in country music, daily pig races, carnival attractions and rides, agricultural exhibits, horseshow competitions, wine tasting events and much, much more. Let us not forget that it is a RODEO, the highest paying indoor rodeo in the world. While many seek entertainment and fun at the livestock show and rodeo, they often overlook its value to the greater Houston area.

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My younger brother in the 2012 Houston Livestock Show

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo started giving scholarships in the late 1950s and has continued with the tradition for more than five decades. Just in 2015 alone, the Houston Rodeo has designated more than $24,000,000 to be given away in scholarships and grants for students desiring to continue their education. As a participant in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s public speaking competitions, firsthand experience says that the HLS&R does an incredible job in guiding students to be successful in their future endeavors, especially providing assistance to those in need. Since its beginning in 1932, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has committed nearly $375 million to scholarships, research, endowments, calf scramble participants, junior show exhibitors, School Art participants, and other educational youth programs.


Me before my first Kenny Rogers concert at the Houston Rodeo in 1999.

Aside from the various charitable and educational activities, the Houston Rodeo promotes Western heritage throughout Houston and the nation. Generations of Houstonians, including my family, have a history with the Show. More than 30,000 volunteers, serving on more than 200 committees, make the show a success. My grandparents have long been involved with buying auction animals, supporting livestock show participants. My father volunteers his time on the Ranching and Wildlife committee, a group that hosts a 4-day conference and seminar for ranchers and also runs a scholarship fundraising auction, offering hunting and fishing trips, saddles, artwork, boots, etc. My youngest brother raises livestock, and will participating the stock show this year for his 4th time. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo seems to transcend time in a way, having events such as the trail ride, cook off, and concerts which generations of families have been able to enjoy together.

Finally, the importance of the Houston Rodeo to the country music industry cannot be overlooked. I can still remember seeing country greats such as George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Rogers, and Alan Jackson perform at Rodeo Houston. There is hall showing former entertainers, including Elvis Presley, Roy Rogers and many more. This year some of the biggest names in country music such as Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, and Luke Bryan will be performing. The Houston Rodeo has been the most important rodeo in the country for promoting country music and keeping the western spirit alive, a long-standing tradition that will continue for years to come.

External Links:

Rodeo Houston: Who We Are

Article from the Houston Chronicle about the Houston Rodeo’s charitable work

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Filed under Charity, Live Music, News, Texas

Couldn’t Miss the Dance

A while back, MaKayla posted about Scotty McCreery’s charitable contributions. Since that post received a lot of love from y’all, I thought I would share this story about Garth Brooks stopping a concert to recognize a fan who is undergoing treatment for cancer. Also, incredibly, he gave her his guitar. Here’s the video:

I ran across this news this morning on my bus ride to campus and, I’ll be honest, I teared up a bit. Fortunately, I don’t think any of the other passengers noticed. It has to be one of the hardest and most rewarding parts of being a celebrity, this being called on to help people who are hurting or dying. Props to Brooks, though.


Filed under Charity, Live Music, New Country, Reflection