Don Edwards, the beloved cowboy singer who frequently headlined the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, died on Sunday at the age of 83.
The award-winning artist was nominated for two Grammys, won Best Male Performer from the Western Music Association, and won eight Wrangler Awards from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. He was widely respected among his fans and his peers. Gene Autry once said of him, “I’m proud and honored to be riding the same trail as you.”
Edwards was considered as much more than a musician, however. He was known as a scholar of the Old West – taking an interest in its musicology and history. According to Edwards’ website, Bobby Weaver, of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, summed up Edwards’ importance as “the best purveyor of cowboy music in America today.”
“In tales of the day-to-day lives and emotions of those who lived it, his ballads paint a sweeping landscape of both mind and heart, bringing to life the sights, sounds and feelings of this American contribution to culture and art,” read a statement on his website. “The quality of this cowboy balladeer’s music stems from the fact that he is so much more than a singer.”
“Once referred to as a singing scholar of the Old West, his deep knowledge of history and musical lore was of great help when our media team traveled to Fort Worth for in-depth research of John Lomax,” read a post on Edwards’ Facebook page by the Western Folklife Center. “Don guided them through the Fort Worth Stockyards and the Elephant Saloon, and was very generous with both his talents and time.”