Band director’s passion for music leads to discovery of forgotten Eastland musician

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EASTLAND, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Eastland High School alumnus who has been hidden in history, has been re-discovered.

His name is only recognized by a handful of people in Eastland, but this week the Eastland High School band is shedding light on him and his long and successful music career.

Collen Gray Satterwhite, professionally known as “Tex Satterwhite” was a talented musician, having played the trombone, being an arranger and song writer.

Satterwhite moved to Los Angeles about a decade after graduating with the class of 1937. He went on to create a ton of music for folks like Patsy Cline, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and even played in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

This week, the Eastland High School band is focusing on the arts in Eastland for its 2019 Music Week.

“He comes from the town. He was born in Eastland, went to school here. He had teachers in Eastland that people in town would recognize. His parents owned a hardware store here, in downtown. His music education that started here lead to music that went across the entire country, and that’s pretty special,” Eastland High School band director, Stephen Cox explained.

Cox’s curiousity and passion for music, lead him to Satterwhite.

“We began doing a history project last summer and we discovered an alumni named Tex Satterwhite. We found out he had been in our band program, he had been in our school and that he’d gone on to write music, that was performed by Patsy Cline and Tony Bennett and that he played in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra,” Cox said.

The Eastland High School band director of five years, worked relentlessly, since July of 2018, on this project with his band students. He noticed he was missing a piece to the puzzle and sure enough, he found it… or more specifically her.  He somehow found Satterwhite’s daughter, Lindsay. A native of Los Angeles, Lindsay has not been in Eastland since the early 2000s.

“We’re actually fortunate enough to have Tex Satterwhite’s daughter in town this entire week. She came from Los Angeles and she’s been helping us with the project, getting us music, getting us information,” he explained.

He now had a face to the family to add to the legacy.

Tex’s daughter, Lindsay Kauffman explained,”He reached me by phone, out of the blue last summer. An amazing confluence of events coming together, that he even found me in the first place. And introduced himself and started telling me he had come across things about my dad here and he was interested in knowing more and would I be happy to help. I said ‘of course!’

She has been helping glue together the missing pieces of Music Week and bringing her father, a musical genius back to life in the Eastland community.

“I could feel his passion over the phone and his interest and it’s about the music and the music, of course is central to the way I grew up, so it resonated with me.”

Kauffman explained the Eastland High School band fueled her father’s musical career to continue further.

“Music was a part of my life because of him. The whole time I grew up. I mean, truly, I went to rehearsals, it was in the house. He was forever running off to do ‘gigs’ as they call them, or writing stuff in the middle of the night at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

The same is being done for current students, according to band mother Mindy Burger.

“You know, you’re a mom and you see your child on the field rockin’ it, making awesome music and it just makes you so proud,” Burger said.

Burger explained the band changed the life of one of her sons.

“He [Lance] used to be kind of to himself, and really quiet about things and now he just has, I mean, just totally, he’s the most confident person in the whole world,” she said.

Lance is a sophomore and his younger brother, Lane is in the eigth grade. Both boys are fortunate enough to be playing percussions together.

“Lane actually got to play up with the high school band this year, for the marching, so we were- it was pretty cool,” she said. “Eastland is just so blessed to have such a great band program, and Mr. Cox and Mr. Lowrance and Mr. Hernandez are amazing.

The blessings keep on coming, as a result of passionate band director doing some musical digging.

“They’re on their 10th consecutive sweepstakes as a high school band. They’ve been to a state marching contest recently, performed at the Midwest Clinic, done a lot of really neat things in their recent histriones. It’s because the kids are awesome and they work really hard, and it’s being supported by everyone and that’s amazing,” Cox said.

Videos of the Eastland High School Band can be found here:

This week, the band is doing a collection of events centered around Satterwhite’s music, as well as the history of the town at large.

Here are a list of events happening during Music Week.

  • Eastland High School Wind Symphony in Concert:
    • First United Methodist Church takes place on Wednesday, April 10 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Eastland Musical Legacy Concert:
    • Eastland Majestic Theatre, on Thursday, April 11 at 7 p.m.
  • Swing Dancy/Party:
    • Rooftop of Connellee Hotel on Friday, April 12. The optional dance crash course will start at 5:30 p.m. and the dance/conert will go from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Eastland Jazz Festival:
    • Eastland County Courthouse on Saturday, April 13. It will take place all day.

*Photos of Tex Satterwhite and videos of the Eastland High School Band is courtesy of the Eastland High School Band, band director Stephen Cox and Lindsey Kauffman.

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