For Black History Month we’re turning the spotlight on several prominent black musicians both past and present whose contributions helped put Austin music on the map. KUT reporter DaLyah Jones produced these profiles for KUTX with help from Clay Shorkey of The Texas Music Museum.
Gary Clark Jr. (Feb. 15, 1984)
Gary Clark Jr. is famously known for his modern blend of blues, soul, rock and hip hop that evoke a spiritually, euphoric and gritty sound. But, the 34-year-old — 35 on February 15th — grammy award winning artist wouldn’t be what RollingStone calls one of the “world’s greatest living guitar players” without first being primed in the church and in the godforsaken bars of Austin. At age four the South Austin native went to the Michael Jackson Bad Tour performance in Denver. The experience set a path for young Clark, who would later ask for his first guitar at age 12 and teach himself how to play. A teenage Clark gained his “honey-thick soul” feel from both singing in the church choir and performing in various bars, most notably Antone’s nightclub. Owner, Clifford Antone, allowed Clark to grace the stage with notable musicians like Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Willis “Pinetop” Perkins, and Hubert Sumlin. Clark’s influences include Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis, Parliament Funkadelic, Tupac, Biggie and Jimi Hendrix, who Clark is frequently compared to, but is in a contemporary lane of his own. Over the past two decades, the 6’4 Austinite has signed a recording deal with Warner Bros., released two studio albums and has been featured on songs with artists and bands like Childish Gambino, Foo Fighters and more. Clark is set to release his new blackly-justified third studio album This Land on March 1st.
– DaLyah Jones, KUTX News
Research assistance and archival material provided by Clay Shorkey of The Texas Music Museum