(CultureMap Austin) The Live Music Capital doesn’t have much by way of a legitimized musical institution (which may make it more charming depending on how you feel about institutions). But Austin City Limits (ACL) is the clearest anchoring force for Austin music, with its Hall of Fame as the peak honor an artist can receive. This year, two more artists, Sheryl Crow and Joe Ely, are joining the ranks.
Crow, one of the most ubiquitous singer-songwriters of the '90s and beyond — with nine Grammy wins and seven No. 1 adult alternative singles — doesn’t have much of a Texas connection outside of the country flavor she imbued on her pop hits. It’s tempting to call it a crossover, but Crow started with one foot in country, one foot in folk rock, and a head for radio. Although she didn’t spend lots of time in the Lone Star State, she played two hourlong performances on ACL and hosted the 40th anniversary special in 2014, the same year the Hall of Fame was established.
“I have always loved Austin City Limits,” said Crow in the announcement. “Some of my favorite performances have been on that show. I am so humbled to be honored by such an iconic and prestigious program. It is a dream come true for me to be inducted into the ACL Hall of Fame.”
Joe Ely, on the other hand, is inseparable from Texas. From rockabilly to country ballads, Ely embodies the honky-tonk experience. Hailing from West Texas, he created a lasting reputation playing thousands of live shows. He never made anything like Crow’s radio impact, but as such hasn’t been torn from Texas’ possessive grasp. The lyricist wrote two books, served as Texas State Musician in 2016, formed Lubbock supergroup The Flatlanders, had a minor acting career, and is widely regarded as one of the country songwriting and live performance greats.
“I first played Austin City Limits back in 1980. It was more a local show then, but it kept getting a wider and wider audience,” said Ely in the release. “It’s since become one of the most important live performance shows on television simply because they’ve always maintained the highest quality production and brought in great talent. I’m really honored to be part of that history, and I’m humbled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
Last year, the Hall of Fame inducted alternative country heroes Wilco, who were relatively young compared to past inductees and one of only four bands; and legendary country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, who helped modernize and expand the genre, especially for other independent women artists.
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