Willie Nelson to Receive Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

David McClister

Willie Nelson will be the next recipient of the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Friday morning’s announcement calls Nelson “a musical explorer, redrawing the boundaries of country music throughout his career. …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.”

For his part, Willie was typically more brief in his statement, saying, “It is an honor to be the next recipient of the Gershwin Prize. I appreciate it greatly.”

The Gershwin Prize is awarded to a living musician “whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin,” the pianist/composer and lyricist brothers who together wrote some of pop music’s most enduring standards.

Nelson’s most recent album is Django and Jimmie, his collaboration with fellow country music icon Merle Haggard.

Nelson is the eighth person to receive the Gershwin Prize since Paul Simon received the first one, in 2007.  The other recipients include Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, Carole King, and Billy Joel, who received the prize last year.

Nelson will receive the prize in Washington, D.C. this November.

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