Li­brary of Congress to hon­our Wil­lie Nel­son with Gersh­win Prize


Wil­lie Nel­son will re­ceive the na­tional li­brary's pop mu­sic prize this year - the Gersh­win Prize for Pop­u­lar Song - as the Li­brary of Congress cited Nel­son's six decades in mu­sic Thurs­day.

Nel­son will re­ceive the prize in Novem­ber when he will be feted with a con­cert and other hon­ours in Washington, the li­brary said.

Nel­son's song­writ­ing in­cludes coun­try-mu­sic stan­dards like “Crazy” and “Hello Walls” as well as the al­bums “Shot­gun Wil­lie” and “Star­dust.” And he's still mak­ing new mu­sic. Ear­lier this month, Nel­son's new col­lab­o­ra­tion with Merle Hag­gard, “Django and Jim­mie,” de­buted at No. 1 on the Bill­board coun­try al­bum chart.

Li­brar­ian of Congress James Billing­ton said the na­tive Texan is a “mu­si­cal ex­plorer” who has re­drawn the bound­aries of coun­try mu­sic, cross­ing into jazz, blues, folk, rock and Latin styles.

“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,” Billing­ton said in an­nounc­ing the hon­our. “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 made more than 200 record­ings. In the last five years alone, he has de­liv­ered 10 new re­leases and pub­lished a New York Times best­selling book.

The Gersh­win Prize hon­ours an artist's life­time achieve­ment in mu­sic. Past re­cip­i­ents in­clude Billy Joel, Ste­vie Won­der, Paul Si­mon and Paul McCart­ney.

In a writ­ten state­ment, Nel­son said it was an hon­our to be named the next re­cip­i­ent of the Gersh­win Prize. “I ap­pre­ci­ate it greatly,” he said.


Singer Wil­lie Nel­son per­forms dur­ing an ‘In Per­for­mance at the White House’ se­ries event in Novem­ber. The Li­brary of Congress will honor Nel­son’s 6 decades in mu­sic with the Gersh­win Prize.

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