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 introduces us to a songwriter who entertained audiences in European cafes and American football stadiums.
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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Seger Ellis was born in Houston on July 4, 1904. Ellis’s father encouraged him to pursue banking as a career. However, Ellis taught himself piano and began performing on Houston radio stations in the early 1920s. He soon landed a contract with the Victor Recording Company and became one of the best-selling artists in the country. Ellis also worked with several of the biggest names in jazz, including Louis Armstrong and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. During his illustrious career, Ellis performed in some of New York’s finest hotels and at London’s famed Café de Paris.
After serving in World War II, Seger Ellis returned to Texas. He continued to perform locally and made his mark in the sports world by composing the original 1960 theme song for the Houston Oilers football team.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll remember an accordion player who squeezed a lot of music into one lifetime.