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Vaughn Wilson is many things to many people. He’s an accomplished artist, portrait photographer, musician, award winning author, poet, motivational speaker, and a horseman. At his age you would think the man could decide what he wants to be when he grows up! With over 40 years as a portrait photographer, Wilson’s work can be seen in such places as the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs; the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum in Fort Worth; the Musicians Hall of Fame and in the homes of clients in almost every state in the nation. His passion for music and performing has been a lifelong blessing. “When I was young I was told I shouldn’t waste my time because I wasn’t a very good singer,” says Wilson. “I sang anyway, and that has made all the difference.” Whether he’s playing for 10,000 people or 10, Wilson loves to perform. His love of the audience has taken him to the national charts in country music with his group, Lincoln County and to many elementary schools where he performs classic folk music and reads books to the kids as Unkle Hokum.
The Unkle Hokum series of children’s books came about when some teachers read stories from his coffee table book, Tell Me about that Horse, to their students and asked Wilson if he could write some cowboy themed stories just for kids. Not one to turn down a challenge, Wilson started writing, found a great illustrator in Colorado and published his first three children’s books over the next 9 months. “I really enjoy writing for kids,” Wilson says. “I call them Real stories about real people for kids who need real heroes. I include a biography in the back of each book so the kids know they’re reading about a successful individual.” Of course, Unkle Hokum is in all of the books along with the main character. Wilson says that brings the whole performance full circle when he goes into the schools. “Yeah, I think it’s fun for the kids to see Unkle Hokum play that guitar and sing for them. Then he reads a book with power point illustrations and they get to see him read the book in which he’s a featured character,” says Wilson. “I get to go with him to the shows. He lets me carry his guitar. It helps that we look an awful lot alike although most people say he’s better looking.”
Wilson’s love of horses comes from being born with a “need to be around horses”. “I guess I’m not what you’d call a true animal lover. Most of them I can do without, but horses are a passion. I’ve had the privilege of spending the majority of my life in the company of horses,” he says. It was this passion that led him to write his book, Tell Me about that Horse. Wilson says he wanted to speak to other horsemen and women and ask if they had a “special” horse that inspired them in their lives just as he did. That idea took Wilson all over the country over a three year period interviewing and photographing interesting people about horses that were special to them. Wilson won the prestigious Will Rogers Medallion Award in 2011 for his efforts. No matter what hat Vaughn Wilson wears on any particular day, he wears it with pride. When asked to write About the Author for his coffee table book, he wrote this:
Dancers sway with rhythmic tones
Singers voice melodic moans,
But poets stare out windows.
A son of the South with a heart for the West.
A portrait artist always in search of the elusive perfect light.
Horses are an obsession, music a passion, both is essential.
Roy, Gene, The Duke, Elvis, the Bible…all early influences.
Good land, green grass, ample rain and strong fences are necessities.
A singer of songs, a teller of tales, a dreamer of dreams.
A lover of life, good guitars and a purveyor of poetry that rhymes…who spends entirely too much time staring out windows. Vaughn Wilson