grit, guts & grace
In her new, chart-climbing song "If I Was a Cowboy," Miranda Lambert declares, "If I was a cowboy, I would be queen." It's the cowgirls who are queen in Fort Worth, and Lambert just joined their royal court.
The country music superstar was one of five trailblazers inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame at the 45th Induction Luncheon and Ceremony on October 26 at Dickies Arena. The event (pandemic-postponed from last spring) drew 1,300 guests donning their Western best to celebrate women with "grit, guts, and grace," as mistress of ceremonies Deborah Ferguson put it.
Kicking off the cowgirl-power lunch, Fort Worth mayor Mattie Parker welcomed the crowd with "Howdy, y'all," carrying on the traditional greeting of her predecessor, Betsy Price, who was there, too. (Fun fact Parker revealed: She is one day older than Lambert, whose birthday is November 10, 1983. Parker is the youngest mayor of a big U.S. city, and Lambert will be going for the biggest prize in country music, CMA Entertainer of the Year, on her 38th birthday in a few weeks.)
While patrons and VIPs — including museum executive director Patricia Riley; luncheon sponsor Mary Lester; Stacie McDavid, Elaine Agather, Dashelle Murrin, Laura Wilson, and Mike Cavender — dined on a beef tenderloin lunch, award recipients and inductees were honored on stage, accepting awards and medals from sparkly rodeo queens.
The incoming Hall of Fame members represented a wide range of cowgirls — from a world champion breakaway roper to a renowned artist, cowboy hat designer, and an Olympic medalist:
- Pop Chalee (awarded posthumously): An artist known as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century Native American Arts movement.
- Lari Dee Guy: A champion roper who has won more championship roping titles in breakaway, team roping, and all-around than any other female roper in the world, and instrumental in the rise in popularity of breakaway roping in professional rodeo.
- Kathryn Kusner: An American equestrian and Olympic medalist in show jumping, she was one of the first women to ride for the U.S. Equestrian Team and the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in equestrian competition.
- Lavonna “Shorty” Koger: An Oklahoma native and former rodeo contestant with more than 30 years of experience in restoration, fitting, sewing, and design of cowboy hats, she is now one of today's leading industry hatters.
- Miranda Lambert: The three-time Grammy winner and most decorated artist in Academy of Country Music Awards history is also an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Her successful enterprises include the Idyllwind clothing and boot line (and forthcoming fragrance), Red 55 Winery, The Pink Pistol boutique, and the new Nashville restaurant-bar Casa Rosa. She and her mother also created MuttNation Foundation to benefit rescue animals and shelters nationwide.
While Lambert is no stranger to accepting awards, she admitted she was nervous giving her remarks on stage in Fort Worth, saying, "If I had a guitar, I'd be just fine."
She was a little "terrified," she said, because she didn't consider herself a cowgirl. "I got my first horse at 29 and [I'm] still trying to get my ass right in the saddle," she said to chuckles in the crowd. "Working on it and I'll bet I have a bunch of people in here that could teach me."
Lambert echoed the sentiment of other honorees about the true definition of a "cowgirl."
"I started reading what it all means to be a cowgirl, and I just realized that it's a mentality, it's work ethic and character and drive and heart, and it's women who lift up other women; it's having respect for each other and for animals, and it's using any platform that you're blessed to have for good," she said. "And it means fighting for what's right even if it means it's a way harder way to do things."
She called it "absolutely one of the highest honors of my life" to join the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
Other award winners: Christina Voros, a cinematographer who has worked on hit series such as Yellowstone and its prequel 1883, filming around Fort Worth, also received the Patsy Montana Award. And Lucca K458, a Marine Corps military working dog, received the Sergeant Reckless Award posthumously (accepted by Marine Staff Sgt. Chris Willingham).
Lambert and all of the honorees had the support of an adoring crowd, including Rachel Kennedy, Lisa Clark, Haley Shurden, Brenda Van Newkark, Julie Christian, Barbara Heyer, Jennifer Tucker, Amber Carroll, McKenzie Merrill, Sue Schmitz, Kami Sisson, Jan Johnston, Joy Deary, Nicole Deary, Carolyn Simancik, Dallee Robison, Vievie Blanchard, Shonna Andersen, Toni Wood, Karen Herbst, Debbie Wood, Linda Smith, and Jordan Tierney.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame's mission is to "honor and celebrate women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire."
The museum's fundraising efforts got a big boost via a quick live auction conducted by Cowgirl Hall of Famer Pam Minick: A chance to be an extra in Yellowstone or 1883 fetched a saddle-blazing $150,000.