East Texas was buzzin' Monday about a hometown girl who wowed the music world on Sunday night by winning four Grammy awards. That's right — four.
We're talking, of course, about Kacey Musgraves, who at this point is no stranger to fame. Now 30, Musgraves has won six Grammy awards, her first coming in 2014.
She hails from Golden, which is modestly known as the Sweet Potato Capital of the World. Golden is home to the Golden Sweet Potato Festival, held each year in October. They even have a music festival called the Yamboree.
Golden is only seven miles from the Wood County town of Mineola, where Kacey graduated from Mineola High School, which is 85 miles from downtown Dallas on U.S. Highway 80.
We last heard from Kacey in 2016, when Mineola High won its first-ever state championship in Texas high school football, which was a really big deal, considering that the school was founded in 1914, the first year of World War I.
"I am so proud of my hometown!" Kacey said in the email she sent to us in 2016. "This is such a big deal! I'm celebrating in spirit!"
Sunday night marked Mineola's next-biggest celebration, when Kacey carted home the Grammy in four categories — Best Country Album (Golden Hour), Best Country Song ("Space Cowboy"), Best Country Solo Performance ("Butterflies") and the big one, Album of the Year, for Golden Hour.
The New York Times summarized Sunday night's Grammy awards by proclaiming in a headline: "Grammys 2019: Cardi B, Lady Gaga and Kacey Musgraves Make It a Year for Women."
When it comes to Kacey, John DeFoore wasn't surprised at all. DeFoore, 72, who lives in Grand Saline but teaches guitar and songwriting in Mineola, first met Kacey when she was 1. That's right, 1.
"I knew her parents," DeFoore says. "They were just down the street from my other place. Kacey started singing and doing yodeling in little shows. She reached the stage where she didn't want to do that any more. So, that's when they called me up, and she came over and we started working."
First, he taught her mandolin, then guitar.
"I teach songwriting, so I made her write a song," DeFoore says, meaning he taught Kacey how to write her first song. "And then she wrote one a week."
He says he worked with her from "13 or 14" until she was around 18, when she graduated from Mineola High.
DeFoore's pedigree as a teacher is nothing short of amazing. He taught both Kacey and fellow superstar Miranda Lambert at the Beckham Hotel in downtown Mineola, where he also ran the now-defunct Piney Woods Pickin' Parlor. DeFoore still teaches music lessons in the Beckham.
He ran the Pickin' Parlor for 17 years. Its success led to its demise. When Billy Joe Shaver came to play, and Dan Rather served as emcee for a profile that aired on 60 Minutes, "my insurance caught wind of it and decided to raise my rates. I had to close."
DeFoore's biggest claim to fame is that he served as the earliest mentor to Kacey and Miranda, 35, who grew up in nearby Lindale, 12 miles from Mineola on U.S. Highway 69. Miranda has won two Grammy awards.
DeFoore still teaches songwriting and has about 40 students. He used to have twice that many.
He was thrilled, of course, to watch a former student win four Grammy awards on Sunday night, but he can't say he was surprised.
"She deserves it," he says. "She worked hard. Kacey has class. Anybody who watches her can see the class."
A lot of times, when music stars "get bigger, they pick up other people's songs, but not Kacey," DeFoore says.
He says he told her long ago "don't write what everyone else writes. Write what you feel, what matters to you. Otherwise, you're just regurgitating what you hear on the radio. And I have to say, I love what Kacey writes. It's from the heart — her heart."