Librarian of Congress James Billington announced that Local 433 (Austin, TX) Willie Nelson will be the next recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular music. The Gershwin prize honors a living music artist’s lifetime achievement in promoting song to enhance cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations. He will be recognized for the honor in Washington, DC, in November.
“Willie Nelson is a musical explorer, redrawing the boundaries of country music throughout his career,” says Billington. “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.”
Nelson has written numerous country-music standards, and has made 200-plus recordings that cross many genres. He is also a noted author, actor, and activist, who continues to thrive in a career that has spanned six decades.
Previous winners of the Gershwin Prize for Popular music include Local 802 (New York City) members Paul Simon and Carole King, Local 5 (Detroit, MI) member Stevie Wonder; and the songwriting duo Burt Bacharach of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) and the late Hal David.