Anyone who knows me knows that I have a real love and connection with cowboy music, especially Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers. I have listened to and enjoyed and have sung their music for over 50 years now and I keep hoping this music will live on forever. All the aforementioned cowboys are now gone and I often ask “Will their music live on?” And I have discovered that there other cowboys who love the music, are keeping it alive today and are writing their own cowboy songs. I have only recently started to explore these musicians and to appreciate them. Those like Michael Martin Murphy, Red Steagall, Don Edwards, Belinda Gail, Juni Fisher, Waddie Mitchell, and R.W. Hampton all sing and have written cowboy songs. Some, like Hampton, are real ranchers and write from their own experiences. If you are interested in exploring some of the new generation of western music, check out http://www.westernjubilee.com.
But, even these “modern day” singing cowboys and cowgirls are not spring chickens any more. But I think we now have a new star rising! How about an 18 year old cowgirl named Kristyn Harris from Texas who just recently won the 2012 Western Music Association Crescendo Award? She also won the 2012 WMA’s Female Yodeling Champion, 2011 WMA Janet McBride Yodeling Award and the 2011 Kamloops Cowboy Festival Rising Start Award. Her love for horses (she has started and trained two mustangs) led her to watching Gene Autry and Roy Rogers movies and at 14 she borrowed a guitar and started to teach herself to play and sing the songs she heard Gene and Roy sing. Dale Evans had a big influence on her and she wrote a song about Dale Evans, entitled Thank Heavens for Dale Evans! Check her website out at http://www.kristynharris.com. She has produced 2-3 CDs already which are available from her site. She loves doing the old songs of Autry, Rogers and the Pioneers but she also writes her own music based her experiences with her horses.
The April issue of Western Horseman sums up Kristyn like this:
Kristyn Harris may be the antithesis of a typical teenager. For starters, she prefers the music of singing cowboy Gene Autry over that of Justin Bieber. Whether she was born in the wrong era or just has exceptionally good taste is a matter of opinion. What is certain is that she is a teetering on the verge of a promising career in Western music.
And on another note, if you love the Western lifestyle like I do, check out the TV series called Heartland. It comes on the GMC channel which has recently been renamed UP (Uplifting Entertainment) and is about a Canadian ranch family in the Rockies of Vancouver. The grandfather and his two granddaughters run the ranch. Lou runs the family “dude ranch” business and Amy is a horse trainer. In real life, Amy (Amber Marshall) lives on a ranch, rides horses, and was a vet tech. Her role as Amy is probably pretty close to who she really is. It’s obvious in watching her ride that she is an experienced rider. But anyway, check it out; a new family movie with most of the old traditional values!
Jerry Sprague, The Wannabe Cowboy