Joe Ely follows in the footsteps of fellow official Texas State Musicians Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and Dale Watson.
He then released his first solo album in 1977 and has been a prominent figure in the Texas and national music scene ever since. He's won a Grammy, the Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award and has collaborated with many musical heavyweights, including Bruce Springsteen and the Clash.
"I'm humbled to be recognized in this manner by the state of my birth," Ely said in a statement. "As a songwriter, I've always felt extremely fortunate to have grown up in such an inspirational place with its rich, compelling history. [Texas] is filled with some of the most fascinating characters in the world."
The public nominates the initial candidates for the honor, but the winner is chosen by a committee of members appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Other Texas musicians who have previously received the title include Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Billy Joe Shaver, Dale Watson and Ray Benson.