Conjunto legend Eva Ybarra was appointed as 2022 Texas State Musician by the Texas State Legislature, in partnership with the Texas Commission on the Arts, on May 18 in Austin.
Ybarra is one of eight appointees selected by a legislative-appointed committee for the exceptional quality of their work and for their outstanding commitment to the arts in Texas.
“In honoring these individuals, we bring attention to the important role the arts play in shaping Texas’ cultural landscape,” said Gary Gibbs, executive director for the Texas Commission on the Arts. “These Texas State Artists are the best of the best. Their work defines our character of place and reflects the distinctive qualities that make Texas unique.”
Ybarra’s career spans more than seven decades and has recorded many albums with her band, Eva Ybarra Y Su Conjunto. The “Queen of the Accordion” specializes in writing and composing original conjunto music while also exploring non-standard chord progressions, advancing the art form’s evolution.
“I don’t like being told that I’m the best female accordionist,” said Ybarra in an interview with Texas Folklife. “That’s not right, just say the best, one of the best, that’s all. Simple.”
Ybarra is also a music educator teaching accordion, bajo sexto, and guitarron. She has been an accordion instructor at Palo Alto College’s conjunto program in her hometown of San Antonio. Currently, she fosters the development of other conjunto accordion players by teaching at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s music education program.
She was inducted into the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Conjunto Hall of Fame in 2003, the Tejano R.O.O.T.S Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Tejano Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009. In 2015, she received the South Texas Conjunto Association Lifetime Achievement Award and was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2017.
The 2021 appointees include Texas Poet Laureate Cyrus Cassells of Austin, Texas State Musician Leon Bridges of Fort Worth, Texas State Two-Dimensional Artist Annette Lawrence of Denton, and Texas State Three-Dimensional Artist Jennifer Ling Datchuk of San Antonio.
The 2022 appointees include Texas State Musician Ybarra of San Antonio, Texas Poet Laureate Lupe Mendez of Houston, Texas State Two-Dimensional Artist Celia Álvarez Muñoz of Arlington, and Texas State Three-Dimensional Artist Jesse Lott of Houston.
Each State Artist reflects the state’s diversity and high-quality artistic offerings. Nominees must be native Texans or have resided in the state for at least five years. They must have attained the highest levels of excellence and success in their respective disciplines and earned a statewide, regional or national reputation for their high caliber work.
The positions, created by SB 1043, are filled for one-year terms. Any Texas citizen can nominate an artist and self-nominations are encouraged. The next call for nominations will take place in the fall of 2022.
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