Willie Nelson was the 2019 honoree when the Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing held its annual Grammy Week celebration on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Recognizing the “artistic achievements and creative genius” of the Country Music Hall of Fame member, the event featured remarks from Kacey Musgraves, who praised Nelson’s unexpected role as a unifier. “He has this really unique ability to unite and really bring people together. It’s unlike any artist I can think of,” she said. “Underdogs, outliers, Republicans, rappers, presidents. Everyone loves Willie.”
The icon’s sons Micah Nelson and Lukas Nelson performed some of their father’s songs, including a moving rendition of “Living in the Promiseland,” the centerpiece track, written by David Lynn Jones, off Nelson’s 1986 album The Promiseland. Nelson himself joined in, along with special guest Dave Matthews, who earlier performed “Crazy” with Lukas Nelson. The evening ended with a customary sing-along of “On the Road Again.”
Along with Musgraves and Matthews, Ziggy Marley, Lisa Loeb, Feist, songwriter Diane Warren and “Weird Al” Yankovic were in attendance.
Nelson is the 11th artist to be recognized by the Producers & Engineers Wing. Past honorees include T Bone Burnett, Neil Young, Jack White, and Alicia Keys & Swizz Beatz.
Nelson is nominated for two Grammys at Sunday’s awards: Best American Roots Performance for the song “Last Man Standing” and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his Frank Sinatra homage My Way. Earlier this week, he announced a new hemp-infused coffee as part of his Willie’s Remedy wellness line.