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Hall of fame for Texas musicians will reside online only at first, founder says

Staff Writer
Austin 360

With the prominent role that music plays in Texas' identity, it's a surprise that there isn't a music hall of fame that covers the whole state. Several regional and genre-specific museums and archives exist (the Texas Music Office has a list at governor.state.tx.us/music/education/archives), but no overarching, genre-crossing organization that honors everyone from Willie Nelson to DJ Screw.

A group of mostly Austin-based members of the music community, led by music attorney Ed Fair, is looking to change that starting next year, when a 150-member electoral body will choose the first group of inductees.

If you're picturing a giant, Cleveland-style hall of fame building in downtown Austin, you'll have to wait. Fair says that although there might eventually be a physical home for the project, it will begin as a virtual hall online at www.texas musichof.com (the site is scheduled to launch Wednesday, the same day as a private event celebrating the official announcement). The first class of inductees will be announced sometime next spring, and a public concert celebrating those musicians, not unlike the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concerts, will happen later in 2012. There also will be a category for nonmusicians.

Although that first concert likely will be in Austin, Fair says that he envisions the event taking place in a different location each year. The group plans to accumulate memorabilia, which will be housed in some sort of archive and will be displayed in a mobile exhibition throughout the state. The hall also plans to have a concert series, educational programs and regional musical competitions, with the winners getting a gig at the annual awards show.

Fair adds that instead of focusing on the country-influenced sound that typically gets associated with Texas music, the hall of fame will include musicians in a variety of genres.

"Texas music is as broad and deep as the state itself," Fair says.

If this sounds like something that might not materialize — and there is good reason to, considering that there have been other attempts at making something like this happen — Fair has assembled a board of people that includes "Austin City Limits" producer Terry Lickona to help make sure that it does. Other board members include Margaret Moser of the Austin Chronicle and Rose Reyes of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The project will be funded by sponsorships and private donations, event proceeds and merchandise sales.