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Willie Nelson          

Country Music Singer-Songwriter Known for "On The Road Again" & "Always On My Mind"

Willie Nelson is a country music singer-songwriter, actor, author, and activist. One of the main figures in outlaw country, Nelson has acted in over 30 films, co-authored several books, and has been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana.

In 2012, the Country Music Association honored Nelson with an all-star tribute at the CMAs in Nashville. He is recognized worldwide as an American troubadour and icon, transcended musical genres and has remained relevant through five decades for his music, acting and as the face of such social causes

During the mid-1980s, while creating hit albums like Honeysuckle Rose and recording hit songs like "On the Road Again," "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," and "Pancho and Lefty," he joined the country supergroup The Highwaymen, along with fellow singers Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.

Raised by his grandparents, Nelson first began writing songs when he was seven years old and was playing in a band by age 10. After graduating from high school in 1950, he joined the U.S. Air Force but was later discharged due to back problems. Then Nelson entered Baylor University, but ultimately dropped out of college and worked as a radio DJ for several years, playing gigs in his free time. During this time, which was in the late 1950s, Nelson wrote songs that would include some of his most famous works, such as “Night Life,” “Crazy,” and “Funny How Time Slips Away.”

In 1960, Nelson moved to the country music capital: Nashville, Tennessee. He got a job as a songwriter for Pamper Music, earning about $50 a week. The next year, two of Nelson's songs become hits for other artists -- Faron Young's version of "Hello Walls" and Patsy Cline's legendary rendition of "Crazy." His first album was released the next year without generating much notice.

Singer Ray Price, with whom Nelson had played with previously, made Nelson's song "Night Life" a big hit in 1963. It seemed that his songs were only successful when they were sung by other people. With his gritty, roadhouse sound, Nelson did not fit into the traditional Nashville country music scene. Producers tried to make him fit the more classic country mold, but they just stripped away his unique style, such as his unusual manner of phrasing. And his resistance to these efforts made him a bit of an outlaw, as did his reputation as a hard-drinking, hard-living man.

Nelson moved to Austin, Texas, and kept recording albums, but now he was definitely going his own way. Soon the long-haired, bandana-wearing guitarist started to develop a following. Shotgun Willie (1973) is considered to be one of his greatest albums of all time and showcased his abilities as a singer, storyteller, and performer. The next year, Nelson released Phases and Stages, which became another popular album for the rising star.

With his album Red Headed Stranger, Nelson had his first taste of crossover success. It did well on both the country and rock charts and featured the hit "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," which was written by Fred Rose. Along with being his first song to reach #1 on the country charts, the song also brought Nelson his first Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1975.

Always interested in different musical styles, Nelson recorded his own takes on some American standards on his 1978 album Stardust. His cover of Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell's "Georgia on My Mind" earned him his second Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance.

Around this time, Nelson also branched out into acting. He first appeared in The Electric Horseman starring Robert Redford. Soon after, Nelson starred in Honeysuckle Rose, in which he played a veteran country music performer. The film also featured the song "On the Road Again," which earned Nelson an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. The ballad "Always on my Mind" won the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1982.

The following year, Nelson teamed up with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson to form The Highwaymen. Their first release was a big hit, as was the title track, and they produced another album.

Always experimenting, Nelson continues to try out new types of material. In 2005, he released Countryman, which incorporated elements of reggae. Nelson's 2012 album, Heroes, featured appearances by Merle Haggard, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, and Sheryl Crow, among others.

In 2010, Austin, Texas renamed Second Street to Willie Nelson Boulevard. In 2013, he received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music. The following year, he was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993, and he received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998. In 2011, Nelson was inducted to the National Agricultural Hall of Fame, for his labor in Farm Aid and other fundraisers to benefit farmers. In 2015, Nelson won the Gershwin Prize, the lifetime award of the Library of Congress. In 2018, The Texas Institute of Letters inducted him among its members for his songwriting.

Nelson continues to tour extensively and release albums with a variety of musical influences.

Speech Topics



Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt to headline Harvey benefit concert - CBS ...
Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt are the latest celebrities to ... Harvey Relief (administered by the Greater Houston Community Fund).
Willie Nelson wins Gershwin Prize
JULY 9, 2015, 2:57 PM| The Library of Congress says it will award country singer Willie Nelson with the "Gershwin Prize For Popular Song." CBSN's Jeff Glor has more on the historic accolade.
Willie Nelson's 'Stardust' LP Will Be Performed Live | Music News ...
Willie Nelson tours more than 200 nights a year, largely drawing from his 20 Number One country hits, but fans now have a different kind of show to.
Willie Nelson Becomes Honorary Doctor - ABC News
Image Credit: Paul Marotta/Getty Images Country music legend Willie Nelson has been named an honorary doctor — of music. The 80-year-old Texan was ...

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