Saturday brings large induction, sold-out gala for Museum of the Gulf Coast

Published 12:24 am Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Saturday will bring a day of grand returns for the Museum of the Gulf Coast as they host their annual gala after inducting a Texas musician into the Music Hall of Fame for the first time since January 2020.

Beginning at 3 p.m. at the museum, located at 700 Procter St. in Port Arthur, Rodney Crowell and Mary Karr will be inducted for their individual and collaborative work.

Crowell, born in Houston, has accumulated eight Grammy nominations, winning Best Country Song in 1990 and Best Americana Album in 2014.

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“There’s a phrase they relate to him: Your favorite song was probably written by Rodney Crowell,” said Tom Neal, director of the museum.

Karr, a native of Groves who will be inducted into the Notable People Hall of Fame, has written a number of books including “The Liars Club,” which spent 60 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List. The memoir talks about her childhood in Southeast Texas.

But from the lyrics in one of Crowell’s songs came a collaboration that includes music greats.

“He name checked her in a song,” Neal explained. “Rodney had read her book and he was so taken aback by her phrasing that he wanted to write a song with her.”

In his song, “Earthbound,” Crowell sings the lyrics: “earthbound; Tom Waits, Aretha Franklin, Mary Karr.”

Crowell called Karr, Neal said, who was quick to say she wasn’t a singer. But she agreed to meet with the songwriter.

“He sat down with her in an afternoon and started using conversation from the phrasing she’d used,” Neal said. “He started writing a song just based off some of the things she said.”

Together they created “Kin,” featuring vocals from Vince Gill, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Lee Ann Womack, Lucinda Williams and Nora Jones.

The Gulf Coast Gala

This will be the 19th year for the event, which supports the Port Arthur Higher Education Foundation as well as the museum. And community involvement, Neal said, has been outstanding.

“Ticket sales are great. Everything is in good shape. We’re excited,” the museum director said. “We’re going to have a great turnout this year.”

So much so that the event is sold out. However, that is due in part to needing a specific number of dinners to ensure delivery with food products in short supply.

The menu is a crowd favorite.

“We’ve used this several times,” Neal said. “One time we made an adjustment to it and people didn’t like it.”

Last year the event was held virtually, with Crowell as the performer. His concert was an intimate event with some supporting musicians broadcast from his home.

“We enjoyed it so much we thought it would be nice if we could do this in real time,” Neal said.

Crowell is headlining this year’s gala.