State honors two musicians with deep Central Texas roots

Little Joe Hernandez and Emily Gimble. (Courtesy photo)
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(KWTX) The Texas Commission on the Arts Monday in Austin appointed Little Joe Hernandez of Temple, the founder of Little Joe y La Familia, as state musician for 2019 and Emily Gimble, a 2003 Crawford High School graduate and the granddaughter of legendary Texas fiddler Johnny Gimble, as state musician for 2020.

“The great talents of the 2019-2020 state artists, along with all of those who were nominated, help contribute to a distinctive cultural identity that makes Texas a great place to live, work and visit,” said State Rep. John Cyrier, the chairman of the House Committee on Culture, Recreation, and Tourism.

“It is important that we celebrate the distinguished career achievements of these artists which have enhanced the lives of so many.”

Hernandez was born the seventh of 13 children on Oct. 17, 1940 in Temple, and has performed for more than 60 years breaking down cultural and musical barriers.

He signed his first recording contract in the 1960’s.

During the 1970’s became the leading band of La Onda Chicana (“Chicano Wave”) period of Tejano music.

Described as the “King of the Brown Sound,” he helped pioneer Tejano music, a mix of traditional norteño music and country, blues, and rock styles.

Little Joe y La Familia have received five Grammy Awards and been nominated for eleven.

“With my deepest gratitude and appreciation, thank you again to the Texas Commission on the Arts. I share this award with all past and future recipients,” Hernandez said.

“I know I am extremely lucky because there are so many of my peers who are more worthy than I. This is yet another blessing in my magic musical journey.”

Gimble, who now lives in Austin, shared the news of her appointment online saying she was also humbled by the recognition.

“Spent this morning at the Capitol with an incredible group of artists being recognized by the State of Texas. I'm not quite sure how this happened but I was named Texas State Musician for the year 2020.”

Gimble is a singer and songwriter who has music in her blood.

Her father is McLennan Community College instructor, guitarist and upright bass player Dick Gimble, and her grandfather is the late Johnny Gimble, whose career included a stint as a Texas Playboy with the legendary Western swing musician Bob Wills and who later earned fame for his backup work with country stars from Merle Haggard to Carrie Underwood

Johnny Gimble won the CMA’s Instrumentalist of the Year award in 1975; the first of five times he was so honored, and he continued to play Texas Swing to another generation, accompanied by younger musicians, including his son Dick on bass and vocals Emily on piano and vocals.

Emily released her debut solo album in 2017.

She has toured with Grammy-award winning band, Asleep at the Wheel and has played “Austin City Limits” twice.

She also continues to tour both on her own and with her family band, “The Gimbles.”