Musician Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown traveled the world playing his unique mix of music that he developed while growing up in Orange where Cajun, country, swamp pop, blues, jazz and African-American folksongs blended. The Grammy Award-winner always let his audiences, whether at huge festivals or in television studios, know he was from Orange, Texas. Saturday morning, the Orange County Historical Commission held a dedication for an official Texas Historical Marker honoring Brown.
His brother, Bobby, who still lives in Orange, said Gatemouth would have been pushing his chest out in pride at the honor. Gatemouth died in Orange in September 2005 after evacuating from his Lake Pontchartrain home for Hurricane Katrina. He is buried in Hollywood Community Cemetery off Simmons Drive. The new marker is at the front of the cemetery next to a flagpole and another historical marker for the cemetery. His grave, to the north of the marker, is has a sculptured black marble tombstone with a guitar carved out of the center that his children installed.
About 50 people attended the ceremony, including Brown's godson, musician Billy Andrews from Arkansas. Andrews considers Gatemouth his mentor and played guitar with him in performances. Andrews brought a guitar with him and played after the ceremony. He also let some children learn how to do some blues chords. Andrews has Brown's trademark cowboy 'Guitar Slinger' stick figure tattooed on an inside arm that show while he plays. One local musician from Bridge City walked all the way and Andrews gave him a ride back. Some others attending are living in Austin but were in Orange visiting relatives. Dr. Bob Finch, an educator who now has a consulting service, led the push to get the historical marker and wrote the biography to acquire it.
Jerry Pennington and Nancy Peveto from the county historical commission served as master and mistress of ceremonies. Scriptures and prayers were provided by the Rev. Rickey Guillory, the Rev. Carolyn McCall and the Rev. Raymond C. Young Sr. Dr. Howard Williams, chair of the county historical commission, also spoke. Brown was a World War II Army veteran. The Rev. Marv Howland and Arlene Howland, retired U.S. Navy, represented the Southeast Texas Service Group, provided ‘Taps’ and a prayer.
Orange County historian Dr. Howard Williams addressed the crowd. His daughter, Leslie, is on left and the Rev. Marv Howland is on the right.