MUSICIAN RAY BENSON NAMED 2011 TEXAN OF THE YEAR
Award to be bestowed by Karl Rove on Thursday, March 24 at 7:00 pm.
Asleep at the Wheel founder, recording artist, producer and playwright Ray Benson has been named 2011 Texan of the Year by the Texas Legislative Conference, the well-known annual statewide forum that is marking its forty-fifth year. Benson will be presented with the award Thursday evening, March 24 at a special reception in his honor at the New Braunfels Civic/Convention Center. He will be joining an array of prominent past honorees since 1974 that includes Barbara Jordan, Laura Bush, Anne Armstrong, and Governor Rick Perry.
According to Conference Chair Sara Tays, Benson was selected for his advocacy of health for aging musicians as well as his volunteer work with multiple foundations. “Ray is a founding member of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, which raises money to help aging R&B artists and is also a founding Board Member of the SIMS Foundation, which provides low-cost mental health services for Austin musicians and their families. He is a Trustee for the Texas Chapter of NARAS, a board member of the St. David’s Community Health Foundation, and board member and founding member of the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM).” Benson is an honorary junior member of the United States Secret Service, was named the 2004 Texas State Musician by the Texas House of Representatives and most recently announced as a recipient of the Texas Medal of the Arts.
Benson has earned nine Grammy Awards in four different decades. In 1970 he founded Asleep at the Wheel, and with friends Lucky Oceans and Leroy Preston the group relocated to Austin in 1973 at the suggestion of Willie Nelson. Since then the group has released more than twenty-five albums including the 2009 GRAMMY-nominated “Willie and The Wheel” with Nelson and 2010’s release of “It’s A Good Day” with Texas Playboy legend, Leon Rausch. Benson has long dedicated himself to carrying on the musical tradition of western swing not only with recording but also with a play he co-wrote and stars entitled “A Ride with Bob: The Bob Wills Musical.” Benson was nominated for the award by the late State Representative Edmund Kuempel the night before Kuempel died.