Photo from Seventeen Magazine 1985
photo by Scott Moore
Thank you, Janis Tillerson, for your great photos. You captured that sweet moment after the band plays, “Me and Paul”. Willie turns around to shake hands with his friend, and Billy stands and applauds his brother.
Willie Nelson and his sister, Bobbie Nelson, will release a new collaborative album, December Day: Willie’s Stash Vol. 1, on Tuesday, December 2. The project features the siblings performing new versions of songs from Willie’s catalog as well as covers of American standards from Al Jolson and Irving Berlin.
Bobbie has performed in Willie’s band since 1973. Look for more installments in the Willie’s Stash series soon.
Here is the track listing for December Day: Willie’s Stash Vol. 1:
“Alexander’s Ragtime Band”
“What’ll I Do”
“Summer of Roses”/”December Day”
“I Don’t Know Where I Am Today”
“Who’ll Buy My Memories”
“The Anniversary Song”
“Laws of Nature”
“I Let My Mind Wander”
“Is the Better Part Over”
“My Own Peculiar Way”
“Sad Songs and Waltzes”
“Ou-es tu, mon amour”/”I Never Cared for You”
This beautiful duet of Willie and Lukas Nelson is included in Willie Nelson’s “Heroes” album.
Willie Nelson – Heroes tracklist:
1. “A Horse Called Music”Merle Haggard & Lukas Nelson
2. “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson
3. “That’s All There Is To This Song”
4. “No Place To Fly”Lukas Nelson
5. “Every Time He Drinks He Thinks Of Her” Lukas Nelson
6. “Come On Up To The House”Lukas Nelson & Sheryl Crow
7. “Hero”Billy Joe Shaver, Jamey Johnson
8. “My Window Faces The South”Lukas Nelson
9. “The Sound Of Your Memory”Lukas Nelson
10. “Cold War With You”Lukas Nelson & Ray Price
11. “Just Breathe”Lukas Nelson
12. “My Home In San Antone”Lukas Nelson
13. “Come On Back Jesus”Lukas Nelson & Micah Nelson
14. “The Scientist”
Willie Nelson has been revealed at No. 7 on CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice.
A list of the most influential artists in history chosen by country stars themselves, another honoree is named each week on CMT Hot 20 Countdown.
Beginning his career in the late ’50s, Nelson attempted to fit the mold of the clean-cut Nashville country singer at first but eventually changed course and moved to Austin, Texas, in the early ’70s.
From there, he would become one of the leading figures of the Outlaw country movement — in which artists sought greater creative control over their music — and released classic albums like Shotgun Willie, Phases and Stages, Red Headed Stranger and Stardust.
A celebrated songwriter with a singular vocal and guitar-playing style, Nelson’s hits include “Always on My Mind,” “On the Road Again,” “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” and “Crazy,” which became an iconic single for Patsy Cline. Nelson is also famed as a prolific duet partner, scoring collaborative hits like “Pancho & Lefty” with Merle Haggard and “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” with Jennings.
He continues to record and tour tirelessly, his most recent album being 2014’s Band of Brothers. He is president of the board of directors for Farm Aid and a co-chair on the advisory board of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).
In 1993, Nelson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Merle Haggard, Randy Houser, Asleep at the Wheel‘s Ray Benson, Ashley Monroe, Rhonda Vincent,Pam Tillis and Ronnie Dunn are just a few of the artists who named Nelson as a central influence on today’s country music landscape.
“His voice is unique and needs no correction,” Haggard said. “He has the perseverance matched by nobody that I know of, and he sincerely loves what he does. There’s nobody better at it.”
“Willie Nelson’s got one of the richest, most interesting voices there ever was,” Houser noted. “When you hear him tell a story or hear a song that he wrote and hear him do it, I mean, there’s so much conviction. You know that he’s felt those things, and that transcends anything. I don’t even know why people want to say anything about him having a nontypical voice in a negative way. I don’t care how your voice sounds, if it’s interesting, it’s interesting. That’s what the best voices are, to me.”
On top of his one-of-a-kind style, Nelson is also known for having a kind heart.
“I’ve known Willie for 40 years or longer, and he’s been the best friend a man could ever have,” Benson said. “I mean, musically he is Willie. There’s nobody like him. Playing onstage with Willie is as unique an experience as you can get because he does everything Willie’s way. Luckily, I’ve been with him so long that I know that way, and I love it and it’s just fun.”
“He has this peace about him, this overwhelming peace when you watch him sing or just being in his presence,” Monroe added. “He’s calm. He knows what he’s doing, and you can tell the songs he has written were supposed to be written. They’ve changed music history.”
“I think Willie Nelson has this very calming and very kind spirit that surrounds him,” Vincent agreed. “As you talk to him, he’s rather soft spoken and he kind of draws you in. I think you can’t help but just love him and love that he has that calming spirit about him, whatever it might be.”
But what really sets Nelson apart is the way he was able to change country music, just by being himself.
“Willie tried to make it as an entertainer in Nashville, but he was just a little too different,” Tillis said. “I remember when Willie had short hair and wore a turtle neck. (laughs) I guess he was coming out of that folk era. But then Willie just said, ‘You know what? To hell with all you guys, the powers that be.’
“And when he owned up to who he was and grew his hair long and stopped caring what anybody thought, then it turned into magic. I just remember all of a sudden … hippie country took the country by storm. All of a sudden, you had hillbillies that could play arenas, and they changed the game.”
“Willie was an innovator,” Dunn concluded. “He brought a big social and cultural change to country music. He’s actually the first country artist I got excited about because I listened to as much rock as I did country. … And then Willie came along and fused that culture with sound, and it all came together.”
Another classic Willie Nelson & Family Poster by the great illustrator, and my friend, Steve Brooks. So many posters, shirts, back stage passes, include artwork by Steve Brooks.
Dallas Morning News
January 17, 1980
by: Nancy Bishop
Oh, Willie, what we will do to see you. We’ll fry in the summer heat at one of your picnics. We’ll endure crowds of people — all kinds, most of them kind, but a few that usually become a little beer-sloshing, quick-tempered drunk and get a little crazy.
We’ll even go to the world’s largest, stuffiest sardine can — the Sportatorium — and sit on splintery seats just for a chance to wait until you play for us.
Tuesday’s concert was even worse for the several hundreds of people who didn’t get inside to see you because Gene McCoslin Productions had somehow sold more tickets to fans than the Dallas fire marshal decided would be a safe number to allow inside.
When 4,216 people had filed in, the wire door was slammed shut on the cluster of angry people who were holding tickets and who wanted a chance to pack in as tightly as audiences have before at other Sportatorium concerts. People who were promised by the promoters that they could get refunds at the ticket agencies were still visibly disturbed.
by: Michael Corcoran
She had done whatever it took to raise three sons alone after their father died in an automobile accident in 1961. She demonstrated organs for Hammond, taught at J.R. Reed Music on Congress Avenue and at night played elegant solo piano at local lounges and restaurants. But what Bobbie Nelson really hungered for, especially after her boys had grown up and moved out by the early 1970s, was to play music again with her brother Willie. The pair had forged an instinctive instrumental bond since she was 6 and Willie was 4 and their grandparents showed them the chords to “The Great Speckled Bird.”
Then one day in early 1973, Bobbie got a call from “Hughtie,” her name for Willie, summoning her to New York to play piano on his gospel album The Troublemaker. Willie had just signed a deal with Atlantic Records that gave him the creative control, including choice of session players, that had been denied him in Nashville. It was a new start for Willie, who had just moved to Austin, where Bobbie had beat him by a few years. So at age 42, empty-nester Bobbie Nelson took her very first airplane flight and embarked on a glorious musical journey that is still en route. Willie and ” Sister Bobbie,” as she’s known in the extended Nelson family, have been musical partners for an incredible 77 years.
The culmination of all this musical family love is the upcoming LP December Day, coming out Dec. 2. Although the “Vol. 1” of the “Willie Stash” series of archival recordings features the full band, included bassist Bee Spears who passed away in 2011, the cover credit goes to Willie & Bobbie. She’s the one who’s always there when he wants to jam.
watch the video here:
ABOUT THE VIDEO: 17 years ago, I was channel-surfing and came across a segment on the Austin Music Network featuring Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie playing guitar and piano in a living room studio. The show was “Rogers & Hammerhead,” hosted by Freddy Powers and Bill McDavid and I was completely blown away by the musicianship and warmth of this brother and sister, then 64 and 67 years old. Anyway, I finally tracked down the tape at the Wittliff Collection at Texas State, and they transferred it to digital, so here’s a sample of that magical hour. First song is “She Is Gone,” followed by “It’s a Dream Come True,” both from the great 1996 LP Spirit. Directed by Ingrid Weigand. Used by permission of Freddy and Catherine Powers. Edit master Willie & Bobbie Nelson Rogers & Hammerhead, Freddy Powers Collection, Southwestern Writers Collection / Texas State University.” – Michael Corcoran
“There’s just no way to explain how lucky I am to have a good musician in the family,” Willie Nelson told me in 2007, from the tour bus he shares with his sister. “Whenever I’ve needed a piano player, I’ve had Sister Bobbie right there… whenever our band plays, she’s the best musician on the stage. While Brother Willie has become a modern folk hero, as instantly recognizable as anyone on the planet, Sister Bobbie has happily remained in the shadow, except for the one spotlight turn – usually “Down Yonder” from “Red-Headed Stranger” – she gets at each Willie Nelson and the Family concert.
“I’ve always been very shy,” said Bobbie, who always wears a cowboy hat onstage, but never off. “I sang a little when we were kids, mostly in church. But Willie had such a beautiful voice. I’d always tell him, ‘you sing, Willie, and I’ll play the piano.’” Bobbie didn’t really do many interviews until 2007 when she gingerly stepped out of the background to promote her first solo album, Audiobiography, put out by Randall Jamail. I first met with her at the Pedernales recording studio owned by her son Freddy Fletcher and then we followed up the next week at Farm Aid on Randall’s Island in New York City. She’s got a smile bright as Willie’s, but is much more soft spoken. “I’ve always expressed myself best through music,” she said. “I remember when I got my first piano. I thought, ‘I’ll never be lonely again.’” Not that there weren’t painfully trying times in the devout Christian’s life. She lost two of her three sons, Michael to leukemia and Randy in a car crash, in a six-month period in 1989. “Me and my three boys grew up together, and we had so much fun … and then to lose two of your three babies, well, it’s something you never get over,” Bobbie said. “It taught me to never take life for granted.” Bobbie turns 84 on New Year’s Day. Willie is 81
“It’s just the most wonderful therapy in the world to play with Willie,” she said, adding that sometimes when she’s away from her brother for more than a couple weeks, she gets a cold and feels worn down. Vitamin W always gets her right. Willie and Bobbie ride together on the tour bus, where Bobbie slides a keyboard from the bottom of an adjoining bunk and Willie sits there with his famous battered Trigger and they play as Honeysuckle Rose V hurtles through the deep darkness between gigs. Some nights they don’t quit until they play every gospel song they know.
From church to teenage honky tonk bands to 40 plus years in Willie Nelson and Family, the brother and sister have played music together many more days and nights than they haven’t. Bobbie Lee, born on the first day of 1931, and Willie Hugh, born April 30, 1933, were children of the Depression. Their biological parents were a pair of married teenagers who had recently moved from Arkansas to Abbott, a farming community about 70 miles south of Dallas. But Bobbie and Willie were raised by their paternal grandparents, whom they called Mama and Daddy.
“Daddy Nelson was the sweetest person I’ve ever known,” Bobbie said. “He had the most gorgeous tenor voice.” A proficient player of stringed instruments, Daddy Nelson taught Willie how to play guitar, while Mama Nelson, who lived to be in her 90s, showed Bobbie how to play piano. “It was just so amazing to us that I could play one part and Willie could play another and together we had a song. We’d look at each other and our eyes would light up.”
After Daddy Nelson died when Willie was 7 and Bobbie was 9, the distraught brother and sister took to tunes, both spiritual and secular, to soothe their sorrow. “Playing music made us realize that there was something bigger out there, something more than human life,” she said. They played together for hours every day, and on Sundays they played and sang at the Abbott Methodist Church (which Willie bought in July 2006 when he heard prospective buyers had planned to move it to another town). Bobbie, who could read music at age 6, also played at other churches in the area.
When she was 16, she met 21-year-old ex-GI Bud Fletcher at a revival at Vaughn Methodist Church, near Hillsboro. The couple married a few months later, while Bobbie was a senior at Abbott High. “I’d kiss my husband goodbye every morning then get on the school bus,” she recalled. Seeing so much talent in his new bride and her brother, Fletcher organized a western swing dance band around them – Bud Fletcher and the Texans. Because they played in Czech-centric towns of West and Ennis, they also played polka in the mix. A non-musician in the beginning, Fletcher took on the role of emcee, adding a Bob Willsian “Ah-HA” to that cowboy jazz and pumping up the crowd. He eventually learned to play bass fiddle and then the drums. “Bud was one of those outgoing guys who could talk to anyone,” Bobbie said. “And he was a fabulous dancer.”
Bobbie became pregnant with Randy when she was 19; by age 23 she had three sons and was still playing in her husband’s band. But too many nights in a roadhouse were wearing Fletcher down. “Bud was a great person and we loved each other very much, but he was having a rough time,” she said. “That’s why, to this day, I hate alcohol. I’m so glad Willie doesn’t drink anymore.” The young parents of three small boys also had very little money. In 1955, Bud’s parents went to court to get custody of Randy, Michael and Freddy and won. “Bud’s father was the road commissioner of Hill County and had a lot of influence,” Bobbie said. “They tried to portray me as unfit because I played honky tonk piano. It just broke my heart.”
Bobbie said she had a nervous breakdown after losing her children. “The Fletchers hated the Nelsons,” said Freddy Fletcher. “They looked down on musicians and blamed my mother for getting my father involved, when in reality it was his idea to start a band.” After she gave up the nightlife, took bookkeeping courses and got a job with the Hammond organ company in Fort Worth, Bobbie got her sons back after a year with their grandparents.
She later divorced Fletcher and remarried, but that new union ended in divorce after a few years, as did her third and final marriage in the late 1960s. While Bobbie’s life revolved around her three sons, Willie had hit the jackpot as a Nashville songwriter. In 1961, three of his compositions were big country hits: “Hello Walls” by Faron Young, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline and “Funny How Time Slips Away” by Billy Walker. “I was just so proud of him,” Bobbie said. “People got tired of hearing me say ‘my brother Willie wrote that one’ whenever one of his songs came on the radio.”
Bobbie moved to Austin from Fort Worth in 1965. She came to town to demonstrate a Hammond organ for the El Chico restaurant, set to open at the spanking new Hancock Center, and the owners were so impressed by her interpretations of such standards as Stardust” and “Laura,” as well as her boogie-woogie and swing numbers, they offered Bobbie a job playing nightly. She later opened the Chariot Inn in North Austin and played regularly at the Lakeway Inn. “When Willie called me (in 1973) to come to New York, I was ready,” Bobbie said. “I was always playing the piano, using music to survive, so I never got rusty.”
Although Willie and producer Arif Mardin had blocked out five days at Atlantic studio that year, Bobbie was told she’d be needed only the first day, when The Troublemaker was knocked out in ten hours. The next day, Willie was back with his band to record what would become Shotgun Willie and when she popped in to say goodbye, he asked Bobbie to stick around to play some more piano. He was exploring a new musical direction and needed the comfort of Sister Bobbie, who’s been in the band ever since. Willie said there’s an instinctive connection between him and his sister that he doesn’t feel with any other musician.
“She knows what I’m going to do even before I do sometimes,” he said with a laugh. In a recently unearthed access TV appearance (above), Willie and Bobbie played with their backs to each other and were still able follow subtle cues. “I’m just always listening to what Willie’s doing,” she said. “He shows me the way.” In 1976, Willie bought Bobbie an $85,000 Bosendorfer grand piano like the one she played on Red Headed Stranger. But when IRS agents seized Willie’s property in 1990 to help satisfy a $16.7 million tax lien, Bobbie’s piano was among the Pedernales studio contents auctioned off.
Luckily, the winning bid was from friends of Willie, who gave the Bosendorfer back to Bobbie. It’s the piano she plays so exquisitely on Decoration Day and all of Willie’s records. The brother and sister have never had an argument, Bobbie said, even after she was awakened by police in Louisiana in September 2006 and charged, with Willie and three others, with possession of a pound and a half of marijuana and three ounces of psychedelic mushrooms. The prim and proper churchgoer has never used drugs, but since they were found on the bus she was traveling in, Bobbie was cited with the others.
Rather than vitriol from being awakened in such a way, Bobbie’s reaction was unwavering loyalty to baby bro. “All I knew was that if Willie was going to jail, they’d have to take me to jail, too,” she said. But Willie and company were issued only misdemeanor citations and sent on their way. In the mid-’70s, when Red Headed Stranger hit and the parties and groupies got crazy, Bobbie didn’t ride with Willie and the band, but flew to gigs and stayed in hotels. But she’s traveled with Willie since 1983 and has learned to tolerate the ever-present illegal perfume. “I think he smokes (marijuana) too much,” Bobbie said in 2007, “but that’s just because I’m worried about his health.”
At Randalls Island, Bobbie suggested moving the interview from the back of the bus when Neil Young and all his rowdy friends came onboard to do what you’re supposed to do on Willie’s bus. “Sometimes I need a break,” she said, as Willie’s assistant David Anderson led us to an empty trailer about 50 yards away. Bobbie had heart surgery in 2007 and uses a pacemaker, but she has almost never missed a Family show since 1973. Playing with Willie, she said, “is a gift.
We are just so blessed to be still doing what we’re doing after all these years.” In a small Texas town in the 1930s, a 6-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother learned the power and magic of making music together. Blessed are those who know their purpose so young. And lucky are we who get to hear what they create. (note: a different version of this article appeared in the Austin American Statesman in 2007)
Steve Bloom of CelebStoner.com, Willie Nelson and Philly420 columnist Chris Goldstein on the Honeysuckle Rose
by: Chris Goldstein
This is an excerpt from my interview with a great friend to the marijuana reform movement, Willie Nelson. Read the entire interview in Freedom Leaf Magazine.
The sun was setting on Atlantic City as we were ushered onto the bus nicknamed The Honeysuckle Rose. Steve and I set up the audio recorder and sat down in the small booth across from the kitchenette. The layout on the bus is simple and homey with dark wood trim. It feels like a country cabin on wheels. On the wall is a corkboard with dozens of pictures of Willie’s family.
Willie is constantly on the road, touring across the country. I asked if he sees support growing for the issue of legalization today.
“We see and hear from people every night and do songs like ‘Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die’… . The enthusiasm for that has grown throughout the years… . Who would have thought things would have gone so far within our lifetime? It has surprised me,” he said.
Although the tour hasn’t taken him through Colorado since Amendment 64 went into place earlier this year, Willie commented, “I have some friends there telling me all about it. It’s the way to go!”
We chatted for a minute about the legalization ballot initiatives in Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C.
Willie had some strong advice,
“Well the main thing is: Go vote! It is one of the major problems we have… . We get a little lax… . We think it’s a great idea but on election day we’re busy or something. Just remember: Go vote! If you can vote early then vote early,” he said.
Sitting just inches away, my eyes begin to follow the lines of Willie’s well-known face. At times he looks grandfatherly but he certainly looks much more youthful than a man in his 80s. I asked if he thought smoking marijuana helped keep him feeling young and even looking young.
“Well personally, for my example I think it has. It’s kept me more relaxed and kept me from doing things that weren’t good for me. Like smoking cigarettes. Like drinking alcohol. I was into both of those pretty heavy at one point in my life,” he said.
Then Willie told us about the technique he used to quit tobacco, a story I’d never heard before.
“One day I had a pack of Chesterfields and I took all the cigarettes out and rolled up 20 big fat joints and put those in the cigarette pack, put them in my pocket and I haven’t smoked a cigarette since. And today I feel a whole lot better.”
Consuming cannabis has evolved a lot since Willie first took up marijuana for health and recreation. There are now Volcano vaporizers, hash oil pens and well-manufactured edibles. What is his preferred method?
Without skipping a beat Willie enthusiastically replied, “I’m and old-fashioned joint smoker, ya know.”
Then he quickly added, “Edibles are good for people who can’t smoke. I know there are a lot of people who fall in that category. Just read the label and make sure you know what you’re doing!”
Willie was, no doubt, referencing New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. She, infamously, ate too much of a cannabis-infused chocolate bar in Colorado, resulting in an eight-hour panic attack in her hotel room. After reading her column about the experience, Willie invited Dowd to get high on his bus anytime. She actually took him up on the offer just a few days before this interview while Willie was in Washington, D.C.
My colleague Steve Bloom asked how Farm Aid fared in 2014. The star-studded event was held last month in Raleigh, N.C.
“Farm Aid went great! Had a great crowd …a sell-out crowd. Everybody did a great job,” he said.
“Everybody” means John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Jack White, Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds and a cadre of musicians who played the annual, all-day concert. Farm Aid is the biggest grassroots organization supporting American agriculture and their efforts that go on year-round. Farm Aid offers hotlines to help farmers and even disaster relief. All of it is funded by the annual concert.
Willie is close to the issue and he spoke about the future for those involved.
“Farmers are beginning to have a little more positive outlook on themselves and their livelihoods. They are seeing some breaks here and there. They’re doing a little more organic farming. The people who buy farmed supplies are finding that it is better to go to a farmers market and deal directly with farmers. If you look at your breakfast in the morning and look at your bacon and eggs, well where did that come from? A thousand miles away? Or could your farmer next door maybe have raised those for you? People are beginning to think about that more. So this year’s Farm Aid reflected that a lot.”
Steve asked how hemp might figure into the future for local farmers. I mentioned there was now a legal hemp crop underway in Kentucky. Willie got excited about the topic. He was a longtime supporter of Gatewood Galbraith, a constitutional attorney who ran for governor of Kentucky.
“Go, Gatewood! I think it is a matter of time as people see more uses for hemp. We are talking about hempcrete to replace concrete. It is just as good, just as strong. You can grow it. It’s good for the soul, it’s good for the farmer… . Everything is good about it,” he said.
Ever the political junkie I decided to take a chance and ask about some national figures. Hillary Clinton visited Willie here on the bus the last time she made a presidential run. So I asked about her.
“Oh, I’ve known Hillary for a long time time and I’ve met her a few times on the road,” Willie said with a broad smile. “I hear she’s headed down to Texas here in a few weeks.”
I quipped that she might be going to Iowa and New Hampshire soon, too.
Willie joked, “Well she does have an airplane… .”
Steve went straight to the point, asking if Willie would support her for President.
“Oh, I’d support her in anything she does,” he replied.
So does Willie Nelson think Hillary Clinton would be a friend to marijuana reform?
“I don’t know. I’ve heard her talk about it. It hasn’t been negative… . It hasn’t been completely positive either.”
Chris Goldstein smoked his first joint in 1994 and has been working to legalize marijuana ever since. He serves on the Board of Directors at PhillyNORML and has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. Contact Goldstein at email@example.com or on Twitter @freedomisgreen
Another great photo by Janis Tillerson, from Texas.
I went down to Kinkos
To get some faxin’ done
My ex girlfriend works down there
She was my number one
She said Billy I’m busy
Why don’t ya come around back
I’ll clear the store and lock the doors
We can fax all night
That’s what she said last night
That’s what she said last night
We can fax all night alright
That’s what she said last night
Thank you Kevin Smith, bassist for Willie Nelson & Family, for sharing this photo he took from the stage at the PAC, in Newark, New Jersey. What a beautiful place.
by Judy Kurtz
Willie Nelson, Mary J. Blige, John Fogerty, Romeo Santos and Common are headed to the White House to perform for American troops.
The eclectic roster of musical acts is gathering on the South Lawn of the president’s abode on Nov. 6, just days before Veterans’ Day, for “A Salute to the Troops: In Performance at the White House.”
A Thursday news release from the White House says a live audience filled with hundreds of military service members, their families and veterans will be in attendance. The band Daughtry, fronted by “American Idol” alum Chris Daughtry, will perform via satellite from a USO concert at Japan’s Yokota Air Base.
It’ll be a repeat visit to the White House for most of the entertainers there.
Common appeared at a 2011 poetry event at the White House which sparked controversy.
Republicans, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former President George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, criticized President Obama for inviting the rapper to the event, saying he had used violent lyrics in reference to the 43rd president and the police.
Willie Nelson famously admitted in 2012 that he rolled a joint on the roof of the White House while visiting during the Carter administration.
Mary J. Blige performed at a state dinner for French President François Hollande back in February. Romeo Santos sang at a Latin music event at the White House last year.
Next month’s concert will air on PBS stations across the country on Nov. 7.