Willie Nelson will be the first country music artist to receive the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The iconic songwriter and performer will be celebrated at an invitation-only gala on November 18th in Washington, D.C. Among those paying tribute to the 82-year-old musician are Rosanne Cash, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Raul Malo of the Mavericks, Neil Young and Promise of the Real, the band featuring Nelson’s son, Lukas. Also appearing will be Edie Brickell, Leon Bridges, Ana Gabriel, Paul Simon and Buckwheat Zydeco.
Taking place at DAR Constitution Hall in the nation’s capital, the tribute concert will air on PBS stations January 15th, 2016, at 9:00 p.m. ET and will be broadcast at a later date via the American Forces Network to U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world.
The Gershwin Prize was created in 2007, and named after brothers George and Ira Gershwin, whose contributions to popular American music include numerous standards such as “Someone to Watch Over Me,” which Nelson recorded on his landmark 1978 LP, Stardust. The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame earlier this year. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Nelson’s first-ever recordings, as a 12-year-old in his hometown of Abbott, Texas.
According to the official description on the Library of Congress website, the Gershwin Prize “celebrates the work of an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding.”
Songwriter Paul Simon was the first recipient in 2007. Others who have been honored are Paul McCartney, Carole King, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The selection of the annual Gershwin Prize recipient is made by the Librarian of Congress in consultation with board members selected for their expertise in various fields related to music.