Don't mess with Texas - or its deep bench of powerful cultural luminaries. Plenty of big-name stars gathered in Austin on Feb. 22 for the annual Texas Medal of Arts Awards ceremony. Miranda Lambert, Yellowstone producer Taylor Sheridan, actor Luke Wilson, and Christopher Cross (of "when you get caught between the moon and New York City" fame) were among this year's award recipients.
The Texas Medal of Arts has been awarded since 2001 to native Texans making a mark in the arts and entertainment industries. Previous honorees include Willie Nelson, Matthew McConaughey, and Tommy Lee Jones. And now, the official list of notable Texans formally includes Miranda Lambert. Born in Lindale, the three-time Grammy winner said that her Texas upbringing "means everything" to her.
"I'm 100% Texas through and through," Lambert said in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman. "I always say I'm a T state girl because my heart's a little split sometimes because I love Tennessee, too. But my whole family's in Texas. I grew up in East Texas, and so being here tonight and having our state lift up the arts is just incredible."
Lambert, along with collaborators Jack Ingram and Jon Randall, delighted the crowd with performances of "Two-Step Down to Texas" and "In His Arms." Both songs are from Lambert, Ingram, and Randall's 2021 Grammy-nominated joint album The Marfa Tapes.
Lambert's love for her home state was on full display during the evening, with the "Bluebird" singer gushing, "I feel like I've heard the word 'Texas' tonight more than I ever have in my whole life, and I don't hate it!"
San Antonio native Christopher Cross also took to the stage, first with a performance of his classic "Sailing," and then with a duet of "On the Road Again" with Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson.
Meanwhile, Dallas-born actor Luke Wilson talked about the Texas influences in his frequent collaborations with filmmaker Wes Anderson, a Houston native. Wilson's breakout role was alongside his brother, Owen Wilson, in Anderson's 1996 cult classic Bottle Rocket (now streaming on HBO Max, people!). The film's "off-beat" humor was particularly Texan, said Wilson.
But it's fair to say that Weatherford native Taylor Sheridan is doing the most (like, of all time, ever) to bring the Texas lifestyle to mainstream screens. The prolific producer has churned out an astonishing number of critically-acclaimed Western shows since the 2018 debut of Yellowstone. But before masterminding the Dutton family ranch in Montana, Sheridan was nominated for an Oscar for his Hell or High Water screenplay about a pair of brothers working to save their West Texas ranch.
This year's high-powered group of medalists prove that if you're looking for inspiration, you need only pay a visit to the Lone Star State.
READ MORE: 2023 TV Preview: 11 New Shows to Stream This Year, From a '70s Rock Drama to a Taylor Sheridan Thriller
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