Willie Nelson to Serve as Keynote Speaker at 'SXSW Online' Conference - Rolling Stone
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Willie Nelson to Serve as Keynote Speaker at SXSW Online Conference

Samantha Bee, Matthew McConaughey also set to speak at digital experience, along with panels featuring Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, filmmaker Barry Jenkins and more

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2015 file photo, Willie Nelson performs at Farm Aid 30 at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island in Chicago. Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews headline Farm Aid 2019 when the annual music and food festival visits Wisconsin's dairy country in September. Tickets for the Sept. 21 event at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin, go on sale Friday, July 12, 2019. (Photo by Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP, File)

Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP

Willie Nelson will serve as the keynote speaker at the SXSW Online conference, set for March 16th to the 20th.

For the second straight year, the annual South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, won’t take place due to the coronavirus. In its absence, organizers have instead shifted to a “digital experience” for its 2021 event, with Nelson leading the way.

“No individual has had the cultural impact on or been more synonymous with the creative vibrancy of Austin than Willie Nelson, and we are incredibly honored to have him as a SXSW Online 2021 Keynote,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer.

Other speakers and panelists include Matthew McConaughey, Samantha Bee, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, director Barry Jenkins, Wyclef Jean, Lil Dicky, the Chainsmokers, a conversation between LL Cool J and Queen Latifah, and a panel dedicated to the Genius: Aretha Franklin docuseries.

In addition to the speakers, SXSW Online will host over 200 panels, including music-related talks like “RIP Live Shows? Concerts in the Time of COVID” — “A conversation about the ways the live/touring industry are trying to stay afloat, what’s working, what isn’t, and what still needs to be done to save the music we love” — and “The New Marketplace of Music Royalties” featuring entertainment lawyers and Wyclef.

Other panels of note include “How GenZ Duets the News on TikTok,” “From Moonlight to the Underground Railroad: A Conversation with Barry Jenkins and composer Nicholas Britell” and “AI and Great Power Competition,” a conversation about the future of Artificial Intelligence and National Security with whistleblower Lt. Colonel Alexander S. Vindman.

Registration for SXSW Online is open now at the South By Southwest site.

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