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Texas Music History Comes to Commerce


by Stephen Becker 27 Aug 2009

Art&Seek has recently begun a new feature that we run on Saturdays called This Week in Texas Music. The series, produced by KUT in Austin, looks back each week at an important figure in the state’s musical legacy. This weekend, the series focuses on Charline Arthur, a guitar player who toured with Elvis Presley and […]

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ruby-allmond1Art&Seek has recently begun a new feature that we run on Saturdays called This Week in Texas Music. The series, produced by KUT in Austin, looks back each week at an important figure in the state’s musical legacy.

This weekend, the series focuses on Charline Arthur, a guitar player who toured with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis on the Louisiana Hayride. Arthur was a champion of gender equality in music, much like one of her Texas music contemporaries, Ruby Almond. I don’t know if the series plans to feature Almond, but it was recently brought to my attention that Texas A&M – Commerce has recently acquired a pretty sizable archive of the late fiddle player.

Almond’s career began at a time in the 1940s when fiddle-playin’ wasn’t really seen as very ladylike. Still, you can only thwart talent for so long, and in 1947, Almond was named “National Champion Lady Fiddler.” I’m not sure how that title was determined, but suffice it to say that she was good. She went on to work with Chet Atkins, who recorded several of her songs. Almond died in 2006. But shortly before her death, she agreed to let her neighbor, Audra Brock, collect her artifacts for the public to see.

“To Ruby, her songs and her playing were symbols of what she could do. They represented the conquest of her abilities and talents, and they were demonstrative of her love for beauty,” Brock wrote me in an e-mail. “Thus, they were not to be an inheritance for some member of her family or acquaintances. She wanted her music heard and enjoyed … that gave her great satisfaction.”

The collection in Commerce includes some of Almond’s instruments, recordings and photographs, among other items. It’s housed in the Gee Library on the A&M-Commerce campus. For Texas music fans, it’s probably worth stopping by for a looksee. Take a look at this video of Almond performing in her 60s for a taste of what you might find out there:

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  • Mr. Becker, you have captured some of the important essences of the Ruby Allmond personna in your story. Thank you.

  • Angus Wynne

    More kudos to you for picking up this series and illuminating the rich history of music in Texas, something which is presently missing in the radiosphere and will hopefully find a place on your new FM channel when it hits the airwaves. Art & Seek continues to innovate and impress!

  • Gwen Dixie

    A very interesting paper was presented on Ruby Allmond at this year’s Texas Folklore Society meeting in Nacogdoches. Copies or information is available at the Society’s office at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches. The web address is:

    [email protected]

  • I hope that your readers can recognize the beautiful talents and personality that was Ruby Allmond. She had layers of talent that were as beautiful as the strata of the Grand Canyon. Her ability to attract friends and admirers was natural and easy…a wonderful person to be near.
    Audra M. Brock