Cowboy poet releases first CD
Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor

Aug. 28, 2005 -- Cowboy poet, and native of Hopkins County, Monty Teel, who received a 2004 nomination for "Book Of The Year" by the Academy of Western Artist for his first publication, "Poetry From A Cowboy's Heart," has now released a debut CD entitled, "Things My Father Taught Me," which pays special tribute to his late father, Marion Teel, who was an educator and tennis coach at Sulphur Springs High School from 1965 to 1979.

The CD holds a collection of 12 poems stirred by Teel's devotion to tradition, rural life and the cowboy way, with the title track, "Things My Father Taught Me," showcasing the cowboy code of conduct he learned from his father.

Beginning with "He taught me to always do my best. He taught me the ways of the West," it continues with rhythm and rhyme lessons of: how to shake hands, love and family, living and dying, to always keep trying, and when it's OK for a grown man to cry. It speaks of life's simple pleasures, God's treasures, and American pride.

"Those are some of the life lessons that I cherish the most," said Teel, who now resides in Euless. "I hope to pass them on to our next generation."

Another of Teel's poems on the track is actually about one of the family's next generation cowboys, Cody, who is Teel's 4-year-old nephew and wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up.

Teel explained that his nieces and nephews are the ones who actually inspired him to write his first edition of poems, which won him a nomination for "Book Of The Year" last year.

"I wrote the book primarily for them," Teel said. "Nowadays its all about television and video games. Kids don't know about their past history or that their great-grandfathers might have rode on the Chisholm Trail."

According to Teel, his great-grandfather on his father's side did in fact trail cattle on The Chisholm Trail. He said his father's family ranched in New Mexico and Texas for four generations, and his mother's family, the Moncriefs, raised cotton, cattle and hay in Northeast Texas for four generations, as well.

"All the generations of cattlemen and women in my family made it easy for me to want to be a cowboy," he said proudly. "I knew real cowboys and they were decent folks who rode for the brand and loved the land."

In 1996, Teel took up the tradition-based art form of cowboy poetry, which dates back to the trail drive era of the late 19th century, in order to express his admiration for a simpler way of life.

"My love for the West grew out of the stories and lives of four generations of farmers and ranchers on both sides of my family," said Teel, who was raised on a farm in Hopkins County. "My grandparents started me early in the cattle business by giving me two heifer calves on the day I was born."

He was born to Marion Ray and Grace Evelyn Moncreif Teel on his mother's birthday, July 9, 1962, and named after both his parents, Marion Moncrief 'Monty' Teel. He excelled in 4-H dairy cattle and livestock judging and showing, and won numerous awards and titles including, Gold Star Boy Award, Star Greenhand, the Star Chapter Farmer and Star Lone Star Farmer, as well as three National 4-H trips.

He graduated with honors from Sulphur Springs High School in 1980, just before his father's death in December. Teel then attended Texas A&M University on Dairy Science and Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarships. He received a bachelor's degree in dairy science and a master's of agriculture degree in agricultural economics before attending Southwest Graduate Banking School at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

He currently works in the dairy industry as an auditor for the United States Department of Agriculture, dairy division, but maintains close ties with the working cowboy by helping his sister and brother-in-law, Tammy and Bob Carroll on their cow/calf operation in East Texas.

Enola Gay, special events director at KSST radio/channel 18 TV in Sulphur Springs, stated that Teel's poetry "reflects Hopkins County's rich ranching heritage, and sets to rhyme stories of his family's roots and current-day cowboy tales of the trails."

Teel got his start in 2002 with Red Stegall, master cowboy storyteller and the official cowboy poet of Texas, when he got his first chance to perform his poetry live on The Red Stegall Cowboy Gathering. Since then he has enjoyed performing his own brand of poetry across the Lone Star State and other western states at events such as The Lubbock Cowboy Symposium and Celebration, Cal Farley's Boy's Ranch, The Cheyenne Cowboy Symposium and Celebration, New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum and numerous other cowboy gatherings.

In July, Teel showcased his poetry at the AWA Academy of Western Artists in Richardson and was recently invited to perform at the National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration in Lubbock on Sept. 8-10, as well as being selected as a specialist act finalist for the 2005 Cross Timbers Opry in Stephenville on Oct. 1.

Teel also performs at small town festivals, rodeos, store openings, cowboy churches, men's ministries and retreats, guest ranches and private parties. As the resident poet for the Fort Worth Stockyards, he can be seen each Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Cowtown Opry.

Teel's mother Grace still resides in Sulphur Springs, and claims to be his number one fan, supporter and promoter.

According to Grace, Teel's girlfriend of 10 months, Jennie Dunaway, had a non malignant brain tumor removed on July 27, at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, and proceeds from the sale of her son's books and CD will go to help fund her loss of income during her recovery and other costs not covered by insurance.

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