SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Music runs deep through East Texas and there is no shortage of songbirds here. From the deep, catchy chords of Texas country to the harmonic melodies of Christian music, East Texas has it covered.
Ray Price, Jim Reeves, and Tex Ritter were three of the earliest big names to come out of East Texas. Both Price and Ritter grew up in Panola County, while Reeves grew up in Wood County. The Texas Country Hall of Fame, in Carthage, pays tribute to all three artists, particularly Tex Ritter.
Several modern country artists have also called East Texas home. Neal McCoy, LeeAnn Womack, Miranda Lambert, and newcomer Kasey Musgraves have all had hits on the U.S. country charts. McCoy and Womack are both from Jacksonville. Lambert, who graduated from Lindale High School, has a recent hit written by East Texas' own Kasey Musgraves. "Mama's Broken Heart," at number two on the Billboard Country Chart. When Lambert heard the song she had to have it. The songwriter, from Mineola, has also had success with her own country hit, "Merry Go 'Round".
Still other East Texans are gaining serious attention with their own unique version of the country genre - Texas country. J.B and The Moonshine Band, along with Whiskey Myers have become big names in Texas country music. With their rowdy, outlaw style, J.B and The Moonshine Band are known throughout Texas. Both bands are from the Tyler area and make references to East Texas in their song lyrics.
Religious music and hymns also have a strong presence in East Texas and there are many artists who perform and write Christian music. Paul Baloche has written and performed songs that are now played at church services across the country. Baloche is currently the worship pastor at a church in Lindale. Chris Tomlin, from Grand Saline, released an album in 2013 that became only the fourth Christian album to ever reach number one on the Billboard chart. Tomlin has recorded some of the top worship songs in the United States.
East Texas artists have become a permanent fixture in the world of music. With new performers emerging from East Texas regularly, it is sure that the influence of Texans on the music scene will continue for years to come.