WT alumnus ‘Cowboy Poet’ Red Steagall speaks at West Texas A&M

Distinguished West Texas A&M alumnus, poet and singer Red Steagall enchanted an audience of over 300 Thursdays with his stories and songs of the American West at the campus’s Legacy Hall. Steagall was named the official cowboy poet of Texas by the state legislature in 1991 and was named Poet Laureate for the state in 2006.

Steagall, an icon of cowboy culture, graduated from WT with an animal science and agronomy degree. Soon after, he moved on from his career in agriculture to pursue his musical dream in Hollywood. At age 15, he had been stricken with polio, which led him to pick up guitar playing as a therapy for recovery; his misfortune would be a keystone for his long musical career. He would record more than 20 albums and four books of poetry in a distinguished career that has spanned over half a century.

Asked about how his childhood affliction altered his career path, Steagall reflected on his road traveled.

Singer and poet Red Steagall performs to a captive audience Thursday at West Texas A&M's Legacy Hall.

“Having polio and having to adjust because I lost the muscles in my shoulder made a big difference in my world, because I had to learn to adapt,” Steagall said. “I could no longer be like everyone else; I was different. Just Because it doesn’t work for you does not mean it doesn’t work for me. So I have learned to adjust, and if I hadn’t had polio, I wouldn’t have done that. I would have gone on to be a veterinarian. That was my goal in life. It would have been a good life but different. I do not take the bad things as negative. I find the positive in life; going down the road of life, we only get one shot at There is no such thing as an encore.”

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