SOCORRO – Music has always been around Doug Figgs since he saw his dad – who was also a guitar player and singer – make music throughout his childhood.
“I saw how much he enjoyed it and how much enjoyment he got out of it,” the younger Figgs said. “It was just something that I wanted to do.”
Figgs started elevating his music to the professional level in the 1990s when he started playing in various bands. In 2011, he went to the annual convention for the International Western Music Association, where he attended a songwriting workshop. He then started writing songs and released his first CD soon after.
Recently, Figgs won a Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City for best Original Western Composition. Entrants from all over the world compete for a Wrangler.
“For me, it’s a humbling thing because it’s a very big award, and I’m very, very thrilled to have won it,” he said.
Figgs won the award for his song “El Caballo del Fuego,” which he co-wrote with Floyd Beard and Mariam Funke. Figgs said that he and Beard wrote the lyrics and that Funke added “a little magic” to the music. The song is about the old vaquero-style horsemanship.
“We worked on these lyrics, and what I wanted was a song with some Spanish lyrics, and I wanted a song about a horse,” Figgs said. “We sat in the living room. Floyd said there are a lot of songs written about the fancy black stallion and things like that, so we decided to make it a red horse. He came up with the name Caballo del Fuego, which is the horse of fire.”
After Figgs and Beard finished various lines, Figgs wrote more music overnight and brought the whole song together. Funke then added some musical touches.
Since he started writing music, Figgs has won more than 15 awards – the first in 2014, when he won the Western Music Association’s Harmony Trio Award with The Cowboy Way, which included Figgs, Funke and Jim Jones. The group has won three Group of the Year awards from the WMA, and Figgs has also been named Male Performer of the Year. He’s also received awards from the New Mexico Music Awards.
While Figgs has mainly written western songs over the past 10 years, he has also dabbled in southern rock, country and folk music. He said he mainly sticks with western music because it is what he knows best.
“What I do for a living mostly is I shoe horses so I’m a horseshoer,” Figgs said. “We also run some cattle. I do plenty of cowboy work. It fits completely with what we do.”