Louisiana Tech University on Sept. 29 honored country superstar Kix Brooks with its distinguished artist in residence award.
Brooks is part Brooks & Dunn, the most successful country duo in history. The 1978 Louisiana Tech alum is a Renaissance man with a career that includes composing and performing country music, cattle ranching, farming and co-founding a vineyard and winery. Brooks also spun a love of acting that was honed in college into a film career.
"You never know when you're in school, when you're in college, how those experiences are going to pay off for you down the road, but I will always be grateful to Louisiana Tech for giving me the skills and giving me the confidence, to do, with what talent I have, the most I could possibly do," he said.
The Shreveport native credits teachers at the university taking him under their wings and bringing him up to speed with peers in music and theater. He said when he got to Nashville, he still couldn't sight read music, but he could communicate with other professional musicians and get albums cut.
Brooks donated memorabilia and awards from his longtime career to the university, including one of his first electric guitars, a guitar signed by Chet Atkins and his 2007 Top Vocal Duo of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music.
University President Les Guice said he's proud to have the objects on display in the lobby of the Howard Center for the Performing Arts.
"These things really do mean a lot to me, but they don't mean near as much to me sitting in my house. To think that the place that I hold the dearest, I guess out of any place in my heart, is Louisiana Tech," Brooks said. "I'm really honored. It's a big deal for me, certainly, and I hope some students at the school are inspired by this stuff."
A black top with ZZ Top emblazoned on the back was specifically made for a "CMT Crossroads" episode with the iconic bearded rockers.
"If you know anything about ZZ Top, we knew they'd come with some great outfits, so we hooked up with the clothier Manuel, who's famous for all the rhinestone wagon wheels and all that stuff, and told him we've to go keep up with ZZ Top," Brook said.
The other shirt is a bloodied white button down with a bullet hole in it. Brooks wore it to film the video for "South of Santa Fe."
"It was the only video that we only did that didn't have a performance in it," he said. "We're not singing in it. We just wanted to make, like, a three and half minute movie with the song playing and try and tell the story.
"We went to Old Tuscon and I got shot all to pieces and killed at the end. I hung onto that shirt going, 'You know, I don't know what I'll ever do with this,' but it's kind of fun to see that bloody mess again."
Brooks & Dunn toured for 20 years, which Brooks called a fluke. He said the tour schedule didn't allow time for acting, so as soon as he and Ronnie Dunn separated in 2010, he called his agent and asked for a film role.
Brooks has gone on to several film roles and has produced a few movies, including projects with his son Eric Brooks.