Willie Nelson is set to be honored by The Library of Congress and the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song on Wednesday, November 18th at Constitution Hall in Washington. The concert will be recorded and broadcast nationwide through PBS on Friday, January 16th, 2016.
“With a career that spans six decades, Nelson’s music pushes genre boundaries and his lyrics give voice to America’s heartland,” reads the official announcement. “He put his imprint forever on country music and introduced it to new audiences by expanding music’s avenues in the ‘70s to create ‘outlaw country.’ He has continually broadened his musical language, crossing into jazz, blues, folk, rock and Latin styles. A guitar virtuoso with a unique voice, Nelson is an artist whose work continues to inspire new musicians of diverse genres.”
Set to honor Willie Nelson at the concert and ceremony are Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Raul Malo of The Mavericks, Rosanne Cash, Buckwheat Zydeco, Edie Brickell, and newer performers Leon Bridges, and The Promise of the Real—the band of Willie’s son Lukas. Willie Nelson will also perform at the event.
“Willie Nelson is a musical explorer, redrawing the boundaries of country music throughout his career,” Librarian of Congress James Billington says. “A master communicator, the sincerity and universally appealing message of his lyrics place him in a category of his own while still remaining grounded in his country-music roots. His achievements as a songwriter and performer are legendary. Like America itself, he has absorbed and assimilated diverse stylistic influences into his stories and songs. He has helped make country music one of the most universally beloved forms of American artistic expression.”
Previous recipients of the Gershwin Prize include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Carole King, and Billy Joel.
“It is an honor to be the next recipient of the Gershwin Prize. I appreciate it greatly,” Nelson says.
Willie recently had to cancel a few show with Merle Haggard after a minor health concern, but is expected to resume touring soon.