Kris and Kenny are the toast in Lone Star State

Country music in Texas has always had its own distinctive brand with a highly colourful and talented range of singing stars who never needed to head up to Nashville to get approval for highly successful careers.

Singin’ Cowboy Gene Autry, Western Swing warbler Bob Wills and Honky Tonk crooner Ernest Tubb paved the way for subsequent country luminaries from the Lone Star State in the modern era such as Buck Owens, Billy Walker, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Billie Jo Spears and George Strait.

Texans traditionally see their homeland as a state within a state - some see it as bigger than the USA. And it is in places like Austin, Dallas, Houston, El Paso, San Antonio, Lubbock and Beaumont that country music resonates for a vast audience which is entirely comfortable within its own borders, far removed from the influences of Nashville, Tennessee.

Two distinguished Texans - Kenny Rogers and Kris Kristofferson - were honoured this week by their home state with the Texas Medal of Arts recognition.

The awards to the two Country Music Hall of Famers were handed out at the University of Texas in Austin.

The accolades celebrate artistes and entertainers from around the Lone Star State who embody the unique Texan culture and spread it around the world. In this category, there has been no better than Kris and Kenny, both with huge fan bases in Northern Ireland.

Kenny Rogers, lauded with a lifetime achievement award, has completed a career that made him one of the most successful cross-over country stars of all time, thanks to classic hits The Gambler, Coward of the County and Lucille, and a celebrated duet with Dolly Parton - Islands in the Stream.

Kris Kristofferson, the ‘Outlaw’, accepted the Texas Arts Multimedia award for his work as a singer/songwriter and movie actor. His classic recordings include Me and Bobby McGhee, Help Me Make It Through the Night, Why Me Lord, and Sunday Morning Coming Down.

Kenny at 78 and Kris at 80 are getting on, but their music is timeless and enduring.