This weekend marks one of the largest annual events across the United States, and by extension, one of the most watched sporting events across the world. As the eyes and ears of over 150 million viewers fixate upon Phoenix and the Super Bowl, they will be treated to the music of pop star Katy Perry for the all-important half-time show.
But while what we see and hear in performance can be attributed to Perry and her team, much of what we hear from a composition standpoint will be the work of an artist that is not on stage at all… Singer/ Songwriter Bonnie McKee.
As co-writer, McKee is responsible for some of Katy Perry’s biggest hit songs, including Roar, Teenage Dream, Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F), and the perennial summer anthem California Gurls. To date, McKee has 6 US number 1 singles to her credit as a songwriter.
As the contents of Katy Perry’s halftime show remain top-secret, there’s no telling which songs she’ll choose to perform until Sunday. But audiences can be almost certain that they will hear lyrical contributions by Bonnie McKee. A fantastic singer in her own right, Bonnie McKee has released two albums, and is rumored to be working on a third. Check out her 2013 single American Girl below…
Though it didn’t chart quite as well as some of her other songs, the McKee-pinned Katy Perry song Birthday is a great contemporary Disco anthem, and my favorite song by the artist to date. Check out the lyric video for Birthday here.
From Yolanda Adams to Susan Graham to ZZ Top, the state of Texas is a rich one indeed for music. There is barely a type of world music that cannot be found here, and the titans gospel, classical, and folk genres abound. Legendary stories have come from the South by Southwest festival, and epic Hip Hop scenes.
But from the government standpoint, all of those diverse industries have a little help via the Texas Music Office, which represents and promotes over 15,000 registered artists and groups. With a new Governor, naturally, comes new leadership for the state’s central music industry connector. Here’s the story from Reeve Hamilton of the Texas Tribune…
Gov. Greg Abbott has tapped Brendon Anthony as the next head of the Texas Music Office, his office announced on Friday. Anthony is known for, among other things, playing fiddle in Texas singer-songwriter Pat Green’s band.
According to state statute, the Texas Music Office, which is housed in the governor’s office, is expected to “promote the development of the music industry in the state by informing members of that industry and the public about the resources available in the state for music production.” The staff also serves as the liaison between the industry and state government.
Since the Texas Music Office was created in 1990, it has been run by Casey Monahan, a former music writer. This month, word got out that Monahan would not be kept around in the Abbott administration.
In an interview, Anthony spoke highly of Monahan’s tenure.
“No one can express gratitude enough for a man who devoted 25 years of his life to this office,” he said of his predecessor. “He was a great voice for Texas musicians and businesses.”
Also Friday, the governor’s office named Bryan Daniel as the new director of the Economic Development and Tourism Division. The division will now oversee the Texas Film Commission, the Texas Music Office, the Women’s Commission and the Workforce Investment Council, following a restructuring designed to streamline operations under the governor’s office.
With Casey Monahan’s ouster, many in the music industry feared that Governor Abbott would try to downsize the vital organization, or get rid of it altogether. But the hire of Mr. Anthony, a venerable force within the state’s vast music scene, should calm those fears. As a member of the Pat Green band, Anthony was a beneficiary of former Director Monahan’s hard work. This pick seems to be a sound one.
It will be interesting to see what the next era of the Texas Music Office holds.
Even as oil prices continue in an unpredictable turn, city leaders in Houston are soldiering on with bold new initiatives aimed for the future of Southeast Texas. In particular with the Houston Airport System, they are aiming high.
On what Mayor Annise Parker called “a great day for the City of Houston”, a new partnership was announced that plans to not only improve air and space travel, but also create a pathway to job training skills for area workers. Spearheaded by Council Member Jerry Davis, the project’s initial goal will be training workers to build the new Terminal at IAH. Here is more information via City of Houston press release…
HOUSTON – The Houston Airport System (HAS) is taking a major step forward in enhancing the levels of both safety and efficiency surrounding the various construction projects taking place at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD). A new training center is set to be built at an existing IAH warehouse, designed to enhance the skillset of various employees working on HAS-designated construction projects.
“Continuing education and training are important in just about every professional field but it’s especially vital in the area of construction,” says Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “This new training center will help to ensure that our vital airport facilities are growing in a manner that’s both safe and efficient.”
Under the plan approved by Houston City council members on January 28, 2015, the Houston Area Construction Education Collaborative (HACEC) creates a mutually beneficial partnership between the Houston Airport System and the following institutions of higher learning: Houston Community College (HCC), San Jacinto College and the Lone Star College System.
After constructing the education training center, to be located along Lee Road at IAH, all employees working on HAS-designated construction projects will be required to attend a mandatory training class where OSHA and Houston Airport System safety and security guidelines and requirements are laid out in a detailed fashion. Contractor employees will be given a sense of what it’s like to work in a dynamic airport environment. The center will also be available to those same employees as they look to upgrade their craft skills by receiving training in various construction-related fields.
“It is in the best interest of the Houston Airport System to have a well-educated, highly qualified workforce spearheading our various construction projects,” says Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz. “Whether that person is employed by HAS or a private sector company, they need to have a solid grasp on the skills that are needed to perform their job and that skillset needs to be constantly evolving.”
With a 200,000 student population among the three community colleges, the specialty workforce training center is likely to have an expert pool of talent to choose from. But as was hinted in the press conference, the facility’s usefulness could go much further than a couple of major airport projects. With rapid growth throughout Southeast Texas, this center has the potential to train many new construction workers that would start and the airport system, and take their skills and expertise to other area projects.
“Across the community, we have been discussing the fact the Houston has a booming economy even with lower oil prices.” said Mayor Parker. “There’s a lot of new construction going on, yet we have a gap in the workforce. Contractors are literally cannibalizing each other to get their projects done. At the same time, we have lots of folks across the community who are under-employed or unemployed, and would be perfect to fill in the gap.”
Long a voice for some of Houston’s most under-served communities, Council Member Davis seemed to sum it up best… “We talk about economic development. This is people development.” Programs like this one will hopefully serve to build a bridge for the abundance of young, under-employed workers out there looking for opportunities. If you have an interest in construction work, go and sign up at Houston Community College, San Jacinto College or Lone Star College. The city of Houston is ready to do some ‘people development’.
Per the Mayor, the center is expected to come online this year.
In a fiery speech at his Inauguration last week, the new Lieutenant Governor for the Lone Star State said it several times…
“What day is it?? It’s a new day in Texas.”
This is what Dan Patrick proclaimed shortly after ascending to the state’s second highest office. But under his leadership, it may be the state’s highest office in actuality. The old dynamics of the Perry era– a “showboat Governor” at the helm with a more passive, pensive Lieutenant Governor on the dyess– have been turned on their head. In the new guard of state leadership, there is no question that Governor Abbott has the cooler head.
Only hours into his new post, the Lieutenant Governor is wasting no time to implement his fringe Right agenda. Via Texpatriate, Patrick has begun his reign over the State Senate by decimating Democratic leadership…
Making good on two longstanding committees, Patrick both consolidated the number of committees and significantly reduced the number of Democratic chairs for those committees that remained. Three committees (Government Organization, Jurisprudence and Open Government) got the ax, and a further two committees (Economic Development and Natural Resources, respectively) were merged. This had the overall effect of slashing the total number of committees from 18 to 14.
All three folded committees had been chaired in the 83rd session by Democrats, as did a further three committees. Thus, 1/3rd of the committees had Democrats at the helm, roughly the proportion of the chamber controlled by the minority party. Patrick kept State Senator John Whitmire (D-Harris County), the dean of the chamber, in charge of the Criminal Justice Committee, a position he has held for many years. He also tapped State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Cameron County) as the chair of Intergovernmental Relations, a rather low-ranking post. Reportedly, this was an olive branch extended to the upper house’s most centrist Democrat. Lucio was the one Democrat this past week to vote for the elimination of the 2/3rds rule, as well as for the omnibus anti-abortion bill HB2 (the one Wendy Davis filibustered) in 2013.
Yes Texas… your new Lieutenant Governor has axed the Open Government committee. Anyone see the irony here??
The committee shake-ups come less than one week after the Senate scrapped one of its oldest traditions of requiring a two-thirds majority to deem a bill filibuster proof. This prevents any other Democrat from creating moments like Wendy Davis did in 2011 and 2013.
One thing can be said in earnest for Patrick though… he has stayed true to his word. So far, he has honored each and every promise he made to swing Texas government even further to the fringe Right than once thought possible. Democrats will have no place in the Senate in 2015, unless they can beg Republican friends for support.
So yes, we can all agree with our new Lieutenant Governor… it is indeed a new day in Texas. The question is… what challenges will that new day bring?
Hang on everyone. Looks like we’re in for a bumpy ride.
Behind every successful artist, there is a network of people, and places that have paved the way for their success. Those who champion great art don’t often get the recognition they deserve, and all too often, their role is much more important than people may ever realize. In recent years, Houston has seen unprecedented growth and prestige in the city arts scene, due in no small part to a municipal government which has worked to foster that growth. At the helm of that government, Houston Mayor Annise Parker received a special accolade for innovative approach to the city’s arts scene. Here’s more from a City of Houston Press release…
For 17 years as a council member, controller and now Mayor of Houston, Mayor Parker has been an avid supporter of the arts. As a council member she shepherded a civic art ordinance that sets aside 1.75% of qualifying capital improvement projects. She introduced and passed an ordinance to use the Hotel Occupancy Tax to provide an unprecedented amount of funding—up to $86 million over 5 years —for arts and cultural organizations and programming. Working with her Office of Cultural Affairs, Mayor Parker has launched a large public engagement and planning process to develop a vision, goals and objectives for the future of arts and culture in Houston. Additionally, Mayor Parker nominated “Cultural Districts,” representing Houston’s Museum District, Theater District, Midtown Arts District and others, which have successfully been designated by the Texas Commission on the Arts. Through the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, the Mayor has introduced economic tools to help further the enhancement of cultural institutions including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. In partnership with the Houston Arts Alliance, new civic artworks have been commissioned, purchased or are underway. And Mayor Parker is a poet and writer herself; in 2013, she named Houston’s first poet laureate.
“Arts and culture contribute to our quality of life and are an expression of the soul of a city,” remarked Mayor Parker. “Houston prides itself on being the most diverse city in the nation. Our cultural communities are a big part of that. Through public policy and funding opportunities, we are working hard to grow and expand arts and culture projects in our City. I want to thank you for this award. It is truly humbling to have our efforts recognized.”
“During her tenure, Mayor Parker has put the arts front and center in her agenda,” stated Jonathon Glus, president and CEO of the Houston Arts Alliance. “Mayor Parker has worked tirelessly to integrate the arts into the fabric of City Hall—from shepherding greater investment in cultural facilities to launching the city’s first cultural plan in more than 20 years. She continually makes the case for continued corporate leadership in the arts, culture, and creative economies and works to extend the impact of the arts throughout our expansive city.”
“Every year, the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognizes the exemplary efforts of local leaders who believe as much as we do that the arts are the heart of our society,” remarked Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Arts and culture help shape a city’s quality of life, but mayors also understand the connection between the arts and business and the arts’ impact on the local economy.”
Ask any of the over 220 artists, cultural groups and organizations that receive annual grants from the Houston Arts Alliance, and they will let you know how vital a supportive municipal government has been to their success.
In her short remarks receiving the award, Parker said that she views arts and culture as “part of the infrastructure of a city”. Much the same way that our communities must have roads to transport people from point A to point B, and we must have clean water to drink, the arts provide an invaluable outlet for creativity and expression. The arts can be the tie that binds otherwise disparate populations, but can also lay the groundwork for commonality and compromise when we are faced with substantive problems to solve. If there is one portion of her legacy that Annise Parker can be proud of, it will surely be that she was a champion of Houston art and culture. Her fellow Mayors across the country have taken notice too.
The clock is slowly ticking on towards the Houston municipal elections. But one area that has seen significant action is the race for Mayor. This week, another major candidate has made moves that are sure to shake up the race. Theodore Schleifer of the Houston Chronicle reports that all the signs point to an impending announcement from Garcia…
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia is sending every possible message that he intends to run for mayor this year, aggressively increasing his political operations and signaling to some close advisers and backers that a campaign may be imminent.
Garcia, under the Texas Constitution, would have to resign as a county official immediately upon declaring his candidacy. That presents Garcia, who watchers expect to immediately move to the field’s top tier if he joins the burgeoning mayoral fray, with a fateful decision: Does he step down as the county’s top Democratic officeholder to make a bid that would make him either Houston’s first Latino mayor, or politically unemployed?
“At the end of the day, it’s like standing at the craps table, placing the bet – and you could walk away with nothing,” said Garcia confidant Greg Compean.
Perhaps most tellingly, county sources say, is that Garcia’s top staff at the Sheriff’s Office are looking to jump as they eye other county positions that would give them a landing place beyond Garcia’s tenure and vest them in the county’s pension system. Garcia’s top lieutenant and close friend, Armando Tello, left last month for a lower-profile post in Precinct 6, and other executive officers currently are scoping out other opportunities.
“He’s running,” said Hispanic Chamber of Commerce head Laura Murillo, who once considered her own bid for mayor. “He’s getting ready to make his announcement very soon.”
Murillo is not in Garcia’s inner circle, but several of the sheriff’s other allies confirmed a bid is all but inevitable.
Sheriff Garcia joins a growing field of possible candidates… including State Representative Sylvester Turner, former Congressman and City Council member Chris Bell, current Council Members Stephen Costello, Jack Christie and Oliver Pennington, Ben Hall, Bill King and Orlando Sanchez. Crowded doesn’t even begin to tell the story here, but it’s important to note that some candidates have more potential than others. From the pillars of potential money and name ID, Garcia presumably sits in the upper echelon of contenders right out of the gate with Sylvester Turner. Though there is certainly nothing to stop Ben Hall from bank rolling his own massive campaign, as we basically saw from 2013.
Side note… are there any women interested in running for Mayor? Any??
By far, a Garcia run will have the most immediate impact on local politics. As Dos Centavos points out, his resignation as County Sheriff could mean a substantial roll back of the Progressive policy agenda that has been actualized in recent years. Would a more Conservative Sheriff dismantle aggressive Mental Health reforms and LGBT protections in Harris County law enforcement? That remains to be seen. But those fears aside, there is no doubt that Garcia is a most worthy candidate to lead the city of Houston.