A newly opened exhibit at the Wittliff Collections on the campus of Texas State University pays tribute to “The Songwriters: Sung and Unsung Heroes.”
Curator Hecton Saldaña puts the collection in perspective. “We all love Willie, Waylon, and the boys, right?” he says. “But Willie Nelson would be the first to tell you, there’s just so much more to Texas music.”
Nevertheless, Nelson plays an important role in the exhibit. Lyrics to some of his songs — scribbled on napkins, hotel stationary, and other bits of paper — are on display, for example. And a bust by sculptor Clete Shields is among the first items to greet visitors.
But the exhibit aims to widen visitors’ collective points of musical reference in order to recognize and celebrate the richness and diversity of the songwriters who’ve defined —and who continue to define — the sound of the Lone Star State. It’s a place where Lydia Mendoza, Cindy Walker, Barbara Lynn, Marcia Ball and Terri Hendrix are considered in the same breath as Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.
“The Songwriters” presents, for the first time, many artifacts acquired since the advent of the pandemic and highlights the preservation efforts and research opportunities at The Wittliff Collections.
Here are some highlights.
The Wittliff Collections is located on the seventh floor of Texas State’s Albert B. Alkek Library in San Marcos. All photos used by permission of the Wittliff Collections.