The Texas Heritage Music Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization established in Kerrville in July 1987 by music journalist, author, and Schreiner University English professor Kathleen Pillow Hudson. THMF’s stated mission is “to preserve and perpetuate the traditions in Texas music, to examine the background of Texas music, to trace influences and patterns in Texas music, to document the role Texas music has played in society, and to provide free educational programming to the Texas community.” The organization is located on the campus of Schreiner University, Kerrville.
Immediately after founding THMF, Hudson began researching and documenting all traditions in and of Texas music across the state. Hudson and several volunteers invested thousands of hours of fieldwork collecting the oral histories of Texas singers and songwriters, musicians, fans, friends, and families. Primarily collected on handheld tape recorders in the tradition of folk historians John and Alan Lomax, these taped interviews were eventually digitized and edited and are now preserved in the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University.
In the more than twenty-five years since it was founded, THMF has grown far beyond its original goals of research and documentation and has initiated, produced, and successfully sustained a wide variety of community education programs that are guided by Hudson’s credo that music and storytelling can bring together a culturally and ethnically diverse community. Some of these programs are the Texas Coffeehouse Music Series at Schreiner University, a jazz concert series, and the 2006 stage production of A Ride With Bob at the Cailloux Performing Arts Center, Kerrville. THMF produced Whole Lotta Shakin’—a 2006 radio documentary series on rockabilly music that was distributed to more than 700 U.S. radio stations. The series won the 2007 George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in electronic media. The organization also sponsors numerous showcases featuring local musicians; the long-running Texas Heritage Living History Day (later renamed Texas Heritage Music Day) community education event that features an annual tribute to Jimmie Rodgers (former Kerrville resident and popularly known as the “Father of Country Music”) and more than sixty performers, history re-enactors, and living exhibits that celebrate the history and culturally-varied heritage of Texas; as well as the popular in-school performers’ program, the Bard Project.
THMF established the Wayne Kennemer Scholarship Fund in 1993. The fund is named after the late Kerrville singer and songwriter, Wayne Kennemer, and provides college scholarships to Hill Country-area students pursuing a course of study in music. The fund is supported by an annual benefit concert and private donors. Past benefit concerts for the scholarship fund include Merle Haggard in 1996 and Willie Nelson and Little Joe y La Familia in 1997. THMF celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 2012.
THMF collaborates regularly with other organizations with similar goals and programming, including the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University, Texas Folklore Society, Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, Institute of Texan Cultures at UTSA, and others.