It seems unthinkable that the "King of Country" has yet to be named Texan of the Year, but the Texas Legislative Conference announced this week that it will fix the problem in March at its annual forum in New Braunfels.
The nonpartisan collection of Texas business and political leaders chose country musician George Strait as the recipient of its 2018 Texan of the Year award. Strait will receive the award at a ceremony March 22 at the New Braunfels Civic/Convention Center.
Doug Miller, conference chairman, said the group chose to honor Strait for his dedication to the city of Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Strait came out of retirement from touring Sept. 12 to host a special concert in San Antonio's Majestic Theatre to raise money for hurricane relief efforts. The concert also featured live performances by Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.
"No one has done more than George Strait to raise awareness and funds for the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts," Miller said in a statement. "He put his well-earned reputation on the line and asked not only his fellow Texans to step up, but all Americans. And they have."
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Strait's contributions to country music probably didn't hurt his chances of being named Texan of the Year, either. Strait's music career spans more than 30 years, and his discography contains 60 No. 1 hits, leading him to surpass Conway Twitty's record on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in 2009. He's also amassed more Country Music Awards than any other artist, as well as 13 multiplatinum albums, 33 platinum albums and 38 gold albums from the Recording Industry Association of America.
Strait retired from touring in 2014 with his Cowboy Rides Away Tour, which included a live album recorded at AT&T Stadium in Arlington and set an indoor venue attendance record. He's still recording music and occasionally plays concerts at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and MGM Grand Casino and Resort.
In 2014, Strait told the Dallas Observer's Joe Pappalardo why he chose to end his touring career in Dallas.
"We wanted to have the biggest indoor show; we wanted to set a record. And so where is the place you can go and do that? So we came here. Plus, I opened it up, too. I remember doing my sound check in there with a hard hat. They weren't ready, really, so the whole band had to wear hard hats. Jerry had me a hard hat with a Dallas Cowboys star on it."