2014 Phoenix Banquet
At the Alumni Summer Reunion
7 p.m. June 7
What do an award-winning songwriter, a world-renowned opera singer and a giant in the transportation business have in common? Rodney Clawson, Emily Pulley and James Welch have achieved exceptional success in each of their respective professions, and they each have a degree from West Texas A&M University.
Join us in honoring our Distinguished Alumni at the Alumni Summer Reunion, June 6-7 on campus. $50 gets you access to the entire reunion, including the Phoenix Banquet. Register Today
He has more number one songs under his belt than Guy Clark, Willie Nelson and Don Henley combined, but Rodney Clawson, BMI’s 2013 Songwriter of the Year, still talks with a Texas drawl and shares his hometown roots through words and verse. Clawson, who graduated in 1989 from what was then known as West Texas State University, is a product of a farming family in Gruver, Texas.
After graduating from Gruver High School, he was encouraged to get a degree in a subject other than agriculture so he’d have ‘something to fall back on.” He graduated from WT with a degree in secondary education and readily admits that the most important thing he learned was how to write. And boy, did he ever. He’s penned 13 number one songs to date, and most if not all of those songs reflect those hometown roots of farming and plowing the land to make a buck.
“I learned how to write, I learned how to communicate and I learned how to take information and put it on paper,” Clawson said, “and that’s what I do now for a living. I tell a story from personal experience.”
As a youngster, Clawson was active in church choir and the school band, but it took the Gruver farmer a few years after graduating from WT to even realize he had a knack for songwriting. In fact, it took a high school friend who was working in the music business in Nashville to point it out to him. She encouraged him to give it a try, and slowly, over the course of a year and many hours of tractor time, he wrote something down. Clawson found that he liked it and eventually started traveling one week a month to Nashville to write and make connections.
He wrote about what he knew—Texas, farming and small town life—with a bit of influence from the music of his youth— Willie Nelson, Eddie Rabbit, the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. In 1999 he landed a publishing deal, and today he lives full time in the music city and has an exclusive publishing agreement with Big Loud Shirt. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in country music and songwriting credits include George Strait’s “I Saw God Today,” Frankie Ballard’s “Helluva Life,” Jason Aldean’s “Amarillo Sky,” Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” and Florida Georgia Line’s “Round Here.”
“Rodney is an exceptional talent,” Clay Bradley, assistant vice president of BMI, said. “He has the ability not only to write great songs but communicate through songs, and he communicates lyrically, he communicates musically, he’s a great guitar player and more importantly, he communicates as a singer. He has great phrasing and immediately when you hear a Rodney Clawson song, you know it’s Rodney Clawson.”
2014 Distinguished Alumni