Music has always been around Doug Figgs as it was something he saw his dad — who was also a guitar player and singer — do throughout Figgs’ childhood.
“I saw how much he enjoyed it and how much enjoyment he got out of it,” Figgs said. “It was just something that I wanted to do.”
While Figgs is a horseshoer, he started bringing 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 his own songs and released his first CD soon after.
Recently, Figgs won the Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, which is for the Best Western Composition of the Year. It is an international award that has entries from all over the world.
“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 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 over 15 awards. His first award was 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.
Figgs has 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.”
Figgs also writes music about Spanish horsemanship.
“A lot of the music that I write, I love the Spanish horsemanship because I like to start the horses that way — I like training horses in the old Spanish vaquero traditions,” he said. “That definitely influences a lot of my music.”
When Figgs isn’t writing songs or horseshoeing, he is touring and has put on concerts in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming. Two of his concerts — Prescott, Arizona, and Alpine, Texas — had an audience of 600–700 people. Figgs said he enjoys playing in front of the larger crowds because there are more people enjoying his music and he can still see the reactions from everyone.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun. I like the big crowds, but those aren’t huge. You still get individual — you can still watch the people. You can still see individual people. It’s just exciting when there are that many people. It’s just more excitement.”
Currently, Figgs is working on his fifth CD as his last three were done with The Cowboy Way. The CD he is getting ready to release will be a solo CD.
“It was something that I dreamed about because I’ve played music most of my life and you dream about that,” Figgs said. “There are other things you have to do to make a living and all. It’s a hard thing to get into music and actually make money. It was a dream come true.”