|Robert Earl Keen
|11th of January in 1956
|Houston, Texas, United States
|67 years old (as of 2023)
|Singer-songwriter and entertainer
|The road goes on forever
Robert Earl Keen, the prolific American country singer-songwriter and entertainer, has left an indelible mark on the music industry. Hailing from Houston, Texas, Keen embarked on his musical journey with the release of “No Kinda Dancer” in 1984. This Houston native has since graced the world with an impressive collection of 20 full-length albums, garnering the attention of both independent and major record labels.
Keen’s songwriting prowess is exemplified by the fact that his compositions have been covered by a myriad of acclaimed musicians, including George Strait, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, The Highwaymen, and Nanci Griffith. Beyond the recording studio, Keen has taken his talents on the road, embarking on extensive tours across the United States and overseas.
Robert Earl Keen’s contribution to country music extends beyond the boundaries of Texas, resonating with fans worldwide. Join us as we delve into the life and career of this iconic artist, exploring the roots of his music and the journey that has made him a beloved figure in the world of country music.
Robert Earl Keen, a celebrated American country singer-songwriter, was born on January 11, 1956, in the bustling city of Houston, Texas, United States. As of 2023, he has reached the age of 67, and his astrological sign is Capricorn. Keen adheres to the Christian faith and proudly claims American nationality.
These fundamental details provide a glimpse into the life and background of the artist, setting the stage for a deeper exploration of his remarkable journey and contributions to the world of music.
Early Life and Education
Robert Earl Keen’s roots are deeply embedded in his hometown of Houston, Texas, United States. As a young teenager, Keen exhibited a keen intellect and a passion for literature, excelling in his writing and literature classes. His early interests were not limited to the written word; he also developed a taste for music, finding inspiration in a diverse range of artists.
In his formative years, Keen found himself drawn to the music of legendary artists such as Willie Nelson, Norman Blake, Jesse Winchester, Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Withers, Gary Stewart, and Jimmie Rodgers. Among these influences, country music played a pivotal role in shaping his musical aspirations.
After completing his high school education at Sharpstown High School, Keen’s journey led him to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. It was during his college years that he began to nurture his musical talents. He took up the guitar and honed his skills by learning classic country covers from a songbook. This marked the beginning of a lifelong relationship with music.
In 1978, Keen proudly graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. His academic achievements were a testament to his commitment to both music and literature. Following his graduation, he wasted no time in pursuing his passion for songwriting and music. During his college years, Keen had the opportunity to live with another budding musician who would also make a significant mark in the music industry, none other than Lyle Lovett. Their shared experiences would later contribute to the rich tapestry of Texas music history.
Keen’s post-graduate years saw him collaborating with friends, including his childhood friend Bryan Duckworth, who would become a longtime fiddle player in his band. These early experiences laid the foundation for a remarkable music career, and his journey was only just beginning.
Career and Work
Robert Earl Keen’s remarkable journey in the world of music began to take shape after he graduated from Texas A&M University in 1978. He relocated to the vibrant musical city of Austin, Texas, where he immersed himself in the local music scene. Keen’s talents found an audience in various nightclubs and live music venues across Austin, including iconic spots like Cactus Cafe, Emma Joe’s, Alamo Lounge, Liberty Lunch, Anderson Fair in Houston, and Gruene Hall in New Braunfels.
In 1983, Keen achieved a significant milestone in his career when he won the New Folk competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas. This recognition marked a pivotal moment, encouraging him to pursue his passion for music even further.
The year 1985 witnessed the release of his self-produced debut album, “No Kinda Dancer,” showcasing his distinctive songwriting and musical style. Following this release, Keen made a bold move by relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, with his future wife, Kathleen Gray. In Nashville, he signed a publishing deal and secured a new independent label agreement, in addition to signing with a national booking agent. During their time in Nashville, both Keen and Gray worked at the historic Hatch Show Print shop, adding to their immersion in the city’s vibrant music culture.
Keen’s return to his native Texas in 1987 marked the beginning of a prolific recording career. He released his second album, “The Live Album,” in 1988, followed by “West Textures” in 1989. It was on “West Textures” that Keen introduced his signature song, “The Road Goes on Forever.” Fellow Texan Joe Ely later recorded this iconic song on his 1993 album “Love and Danger,” alongside another Keen composition, “Whenever Kindness Fails.” Keen also included his rendition of “Whenever Kindness Fails” on his fourth album, “A Bigger Piece of Sky,” released in 1993.
Keen’s discography continued to expand with notable releases such as “Gringo Honeymoon” in 1994 and “No. 2 Live Dinner” in 1996. Throughout his career, he maintained a prolific output, consistently writing and recording music. His albums included “Picnic” in 1997 (marking the beginning of a relationship with major labels), “Walking Distance” in 1998, and “Gravitational Forces” in 2001. Keen collaborated with various producers, including John Keane, Gurf Morlix, Gary Velletri, and Lloyd Maines, on these projects.
In 2022, Robert Earl Keen announced his retirement from touring and public performances, culminating in his “I’m Coming Home Farewell Tour.” The final leg of this tour took place at Floore’s Country Store in Helotes, Texas, in September 2022, with the last show attracting approximately 3,000 attendees for a memorable two-and-a-half-hour performance.
Throughout his career, Robert Earl Keen has been supported by a talented band, including:
Bill Whitbeck (bass, upright bass, vocals)
Tom Van Schaik (drums, vocals)
Brian Beken (fiddle, acoustic guitar, electric guitar)
In recognition of his immense contribution to music and his enduring popularity, Keen’s concert tour in 2022 was listed as one of the most successful in the world. His legacy in the world of country music remains a testament to his talent and dedication to the craft.
As of the available information, Robert Earl Keen’s net worth is estimated to be around $5 million. This financial achievement is a testament to his enduring success as a singer-songwriter and his significant presence in the music industry. It’s worth noting that net worth figures can vary over time due to a variety of factors, including career developments, investments, and other financial endeavors. Nevertheless, Keen’s substantial net worth reflects his status as a prominent and accomplished artist in the world of music.
Family and Relationship
In 1986, Robert Earl Keen entered a significant chapter of his life when he married Kathleen Keen. Together, they have nurtured a family that includes two children, Chloe Keen and Clara Rose Keen. This aspect of Keen’s life highlights the personal and familial connections that have played an important role in his musical journey.
- Robert is recognized as one of the best country singer-songwriters and entertainers in the United States.
- He made his debut in the music industry with the release of “No Kinda Dancer” in 1984.
- Robert is the proud father of two beautiful daughters, Chloe Keen and Clara Rose Keen, who has undoubtedly been a source of inspiration and joy in his life.
Q: What is Robert Earl Keen known for in the music industry?
A: Robert Earl Keen is renowned as a country singer-songwriter and entertainer in the United States.
Q: When did Robert Earl Keen release his debut album?
A: He made his debut in 1984 with the release of “No Kinda Dancer.”
Q: Does Robert Earl Keen have a family?
A: Yes, he is a father to two daughters named Chloe Keen and Clara Rose Keen.
Q: What was the significant milestone in Robert Earl Keen’s career in 1983?
A: In 1983, he won the New Folk competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas.
Q: Has Robert Earl Keen announced any retirement plans related to his music career?
A: Yes, in January 2022, Keen announced his retirement from touring and public performances, culminating in his “I’m Coming Home Farewell Tour.”