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Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation

Walker Lukens

Singer, Songwriter & Producer

Lukens at McKinney Falls State Park.

Photographs by Jeff Wilson

Meet Walker Lukens

For singer, songwriter, musician and producer Walker Lukens, the wild landscapes of Texas have become as integral to his story as his favorite guitar.

Born in Houston, Walker was exposed to music early on. His older brother played bass and drums and had his own garage band, and his mother played the piano. With a wide array of instruments at his disposal, Walker explored and mastered each one, setting the tone for a lifelong pursuit of creating his own signature sound.

Walker’s early perception of Texas was of an exotic place where the landscape changed with each passing mile. “Especially in Houston, where if you drive an hour in any direction, you’re still in Houston, but you are in a completely different ethnic enclave,” says Walker. It wasn’t until he was a little older that he truly began to experience and appreciate Texas’ natural beauty. “I didn’t spend a lot of time outdoors until I was about ten years old. I went to summer camp at Laity Lodge in the Hill Country, and it was eye-opening to me. Prior to that, I had never been in a canyon, and we were right on the Frio River near Garner State Park. I felt like I stumbled upon the Wild West you hear about in Texas lore, and I finally understood its allure.”

In 2018, Walker embarked on a transformative canoe trip with friends along the Rio Grande, where he immersed himself in the vast, remote wilderness of deep West Texas.

“We went through the state park and the national park, and it just blew my mind. To be somewhere so remote and breathtaking, with a bunch of people and without cell service for three days…it was amazing. There’s something about West Texas that is so unique. It is far from everything. I started looking at the map differently after that experience.”

– Walker Lukens

This adventure ignited a newfound appreciation for the state’s untamed landscapes, prompting him to explore Texas’s parks and rivers like a bucket list quest. Inspired by Townes Van Zandt’s rendition of “Texas River Song,” Walker challenged himself to visit every Texas river, viewing it as a homage to the state’s natural heritage. “We have so many spring-fed rivers and creeks in central Texas, and once the pandemic hit, being outside was the best place to be. I just started exploring, even at one point going out of my way to swim in the Nueces River, I just started checking each box, one by one. Once I started out, I gained an appreciation for the state park system. It’s such an amazing resource for getting outside when so much of Texas is privately owned land. Without the parks, a lot of these rivers and landscapes wouldn’t even be available to us.”

In 2022, Walker’s passion for music and love of Texas intersected with Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation through the Texas Wild album project. Lukens produced the album, which features wild collaborations of Texas artists reimagining classic Texas songs, all while celebrating the centennial anniversary of Texas State Parks and supporting statewide conservation efforts. The project resonated deeply with Walker, aligning perfectly with his love for Texas and music. “This project was such a blast. My musical tastes are definitely a product of growing up in Houston. A lot of Houston musicians talk about how formative it was to go to the Houston Rodeo. Growing up going to the rodeo, I saw so many acts—George Strait, ZZ Top, Destiny’s Child, even Bob Dylan. So that, in and of itself, is such a good emblem of the music from Texas.”

Texas Wild has already been streamed by millions and garnered a lot of buzz, including a rave review from Texas Monthly, who declared Walker “a mad Texas Genius. Texas Wild feels like one revelation after another: Texas artists reshaping and redefining Texas music, all for the love of their state parks.”

The success of Texas Wild affirmed Walker’s belief in the power of music to unite people and support noble causes. Amidst his musical endeavors, Walker remains deeply involved in various projects, from releasing new music to producing albums for other artists, to spearheading innovative initiatives like hosting the ever-popular Song Confessional podcast, now in its third season.

He also signed on to be a Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation ambassador, where Walker seeks to inspire others to explore and appreciate Texas’s natural wonders. “There’s no other thing quite like the wilderness, and for it to continue and survive on this planet, we have to see ourselves as part of the natural world in a bigger, more immediate way. It’s a beautiful and necessary cause to support.”

Learn more about Walker Lukens’ music and his latest projects.

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