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Texas Treasures: Texas Country Music Artists Continue 'Traditional' Style

(CBSDFW.COM) - The Grammy Awards take place Sunday night as they honor musicians from multiple genres and backgrounds.

However, one group that may not be well-represented are the performers who are surging in popularity in our own backyard.

Texas country music is this week's Texas Treasure.

Even if you're a fan of country music, you may not have heard of such musicians as Mike Ryan, Cody Johnson or Koe Wetzel.

But they are among a growing number of Texas-based artists whose music is striking a chord and creating a devoted fan base.

CBS 11 spoke recently with local radio personalities Hawkeye and Connected K from New Country 96.3.

"It's no secret that in the last few years we've had this Bro-country kind of pop/country hybrid mix," Connected K said. "And a lot of true Country fans feel that that style of music abandons their traditional style, whereas Texas Country artists--folks feel they are still singing those traditional styles. And in a way they are. It's not that they feel it -- you can hear it."

Hawkeye has been behind the mic at KSCS for more than 30 years on the longest-running FM morning show in North Texas.

He says a big part of what makes many Texas artists so appealing is they're playing the kind of music with which Texans can identify.

"These guys who are playing all these bars and honky-tonks and festivals all around Texas and are making that circuit -- they're often playing their own music, and I think that really resonates with the audience," Hawkeye said.

"You see this guy you just saw performing at Billy Bobs. He drives himself home after the show, because he's got a ranch someplace close by -- or he lives close by -- and you see on social media that he's up the next morning tending to his ranch or whatever else he needs to do. It makes it feel like... that's us! That's Texas!" Connected K said.

Whether Texas country musicians get the backing of major Nashville labels to propel them to the next level or they do it on their own, maintaining their own identity -- with their own sound -- is vital to them. And these days, college students are a big part of anyone's success.

"That's where you build a huge fan base by the way," Connected K said. "It's in those college towns. Those kids who are going out -- they want something fun to do on the weekend. They're going to these little local shows, and that's when they fall in love with these artists."

So who may be the next big thing?

"I would say the next one... I would say Parker McCollum," Hawkeye said. "I think that guy is going to explode. In fact, he's opening up for Miranda Lambert at the American Airlines Center (on Feb. 8). How about that!"

It's one native Texan helping another inch closer to that national stage.

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