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Rob Quist honored with Governor’s Arts Award

| December 1, 2022 12:00 AM

Montana singer and songwriter Rob Quist is among six artists who will be honored with the Governor’s Arts Awards at a ceremony at 2 p.m. today, Dec. 1, in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Montana State Capitol in Helena. Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras will be in attendance, along with our current and many former recipients. The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented in the governor’s name and administered by the Montana Arts Council, the state’s official arts agency.

This year’s other honorees include Josh DeWeese, ceramicist, from Bozeman; Don Greytak, Western illustrator from Havre; Deirdre McNamer, author from Missoula; Barbara Van Cleve, photographer from Big Timber; and Nate Wald, rawhide braider from Lodge Grass.

Quist is known as a musical and cultural ambassador for the state of Montana. Born and raised on a ranch in Cut Bank, he’s been a singer and instrumentalist since his youth, when he was also a champion basketball player.

Quist was one of the founders of the Mission Mountain Wood Band, which opened for Rare Earth in 1971 and has appeared on the legendary country TV show “Hee Haw.” He’s had his music recorded by country stars Michael Martin Murphey and Loretta Lynn. He was also the Democratic nominee for Montana’s lone Congressional seat in 2017.

Quist and Steve Riddle started what would eventually be the Mission Mountain Wood Band when they were both at the University of Montana. The band opened for many notable acts and played events around Montana before it broke up in 1982.

Quist and some of the Mission Mountain Wood Band members formed the Montana Band. Quist had already left the band before his fellow members’ tragic deaths in a plane crash.

In 1989, Quist and Blackfeet troubadour Jack Gladstone performed to celebrate Montana’s centennial. Gladstone was among those who nominated Quist for the award.

As a solo performer, Quist performed with backup band Great Northern. He has performed original music with symphony orchestras both in and outside of Montana. He wrote and recorded national television and radio ads for Levi’s 501 Jeans, Amtrak’s Empire Builder and Coors beer.

During a stint in Nashville, Quist earned awards for his songs and received national airplay. Captured on 15 CDs, his work sings the lives and history of Montana and the West. Quist’s songs hit the Billboard and independent charts and have been played worldwide.

He has appeared with musical acts Heart, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jimmy Buffett, Dolly Parton, The Allman Brothers Band, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Bonnie Raitt, the Charlie Daniels Band, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride and Jay Leno.

“Rob is a celebrated Montana musician and composer who has captured the spirit of the West in his music,” said fellow Montana musician and composer Philip Aaberg who also nominated Quist. “He’s an evocative and versatile artist whose gift of song has touched the hearts and souls of his countrymen, an eloquent proponent of the history and beauty of the West whose legacy in song will be embraced by generations to follow.”