Who Belongs On Texas’ ‘Mount Rushmore’ Of Music?

Texas Monthly picked the top four musicians to come out of the Lone Star State.

By David BrownMay 10, 2019 11:50 am

This week, the National Park Service announced that, for the first time since 2009, fireworks would mark this year’s July Fourth celebration at Mount Rushmore. That announcement coincided with a seemingly unrelated debate on Twitter about which state has fostered the most music A-listers. Now, Texas Monthly journalist Dan Solomon is making the case that Texas is tops, and names who he thinks would belong on the state’s own Mount Rushmore of musical talent if such a monument existed.  

Solomon’s picks:

1. Beyoncé

2. Selena

3. Willie Nelson

4. Buddy Holly

What Solomon wrote about Beyoncé:

“An artist who’s been one of the most relevant and important musicians in the world for two decades and counting.

Solomon on Selena:                         

“A singer who single-handedly introduced an entire genre of music to the rest of the world, and whose legacy continues to loom decades after her death.”

Solomon on Willie:

“An icon who wrote both a number of the greatest songs in country music history, and radicalized the genre with unparalleled career longevity.”

Solomon on Buddy Holly:

“One of the most influential artists of all time, who, in a brief lifetime, helped define what rock-and-roll would sound like, both in terms of production and arrangements, while also recording some of the genre’s most enduring hits.”

Solomon on the states that come close to Texas:

“California’s produced a lot of great artists, but a lot of them aren’t from California: Beach Boys are, Grateful Dead are, Kendrick Lamar is, but Tupac isn’t. … New York does better because hip-hop was born there, and punk rock was effectively born there, so New York makes it. Michigan, of course, though, is Motown, and it’s also garage rock, so you can go Iggy Pop to Alice Cooper to Jack White. And then, of course, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson.”

On how these Texas artists span generations:

“They also span the entire history of recorded music. You can start in the ’50s with Buddy Holly and go to 2019 and Beyoncé … and you can go a lot deeper. You can easily sub out a few of these and still find people who are impressive.”

How being an outsider can be a point of pride in Texas:

“We know that we do really amazing things here, but because we’re not centered in a media hub the way that New York and California are, it’s easy to forget us. There are stereotypes about us that have endured for a long time, and it’s fun to push back against that and remind people, ‘Hey we’re here, and we do pretty amazing things, whether we’re talking about music or barbecue or literature or anything else.”


Written by Sara Schleede.