Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman pays tribute to an artist who could really sink his teeth into his work..
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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Alex Moore, born in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1899, was a pioneer of the piano style known as barrelhouse or boogie-woogie. Born into poverty, Moore had to drop out of school in the sixth grade to help support his family. He joined the U.S. Army during World War I, and by the 1920s, he had become a very popular boogie-woogie piano player. He earned the nickname “Whistlin’” Alex Moore, because of the way he whistled through his teeth while playing.
Alex Moore’s career underwent a renaissance in the 1960s, when he was invited to play at festivals throughout the United States and Europe. In 1987, he became the first African-American from Texas to be awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll celebrate one of the pioneers of Chicano blues.