Bobbie Nelson’s New CD


by Chris Welch

Bobbie Nelson, the sister of legendary Willie Nelson, is performing tonight with her brother at the Von Braun Center Arena in Huntsville starting at 7:30 p.m.

We had a story on her in today’s Go: Your good Times magazine about her close relationship with Willie. It’s a touching story and she is a wonderful woman. Her lovely heart and personality came over during our 30 or so minute phone conversation.   

She’s also released her first CD – at the ripe age of 76 – and here’s some more information from her record label about it.

Her debut album on Justic Records titled “Audiobiography” because there’s no better way to get to know Bobbie Nelson than through the sound of her playing some of the (many) songs she loves best.

On “Audiobiography,” Nelson transforms the 88 keys of her piano into a storytelling instrument and regales listeners with the sound of a life devoted to and enriched by music. It travels back to the church where she first began to perform and on through the Central Texas honky-tonks where she played as a teen to her decades as a piano entertainer in clubs and lounges to her key role in one of the great musical units of our day.

How’s that life roll out across the keyboard? For starters, there’s the songs she grew up with and has played ever since: boogie woogie piano classics like “Pine Top Boogie,” “Death Ray Boogie” and “The House of Blue Lights” and such ragtime numbers as “12th Street Rag” and “Down Yonder.” Bobbie also offers her wonderful renditions of such oft-recorded classic pop songs as Johnny Mercer’s “Laura,” “Deep Purple” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” (also the title song of one of Willie’s landmark albums) as well as her new favorite tune, the worldwide Latin pop hit “Sabor a Mi.”

And speaking of Bobbie’s brother, she also brings her own spirit to one of his contributions to the hit parade of all time, “Crazy,” a song that has been a standard in Bobbie’s repertoire as a piano entertainer since Willie first wrote it. And then there’s the bookend tracks at the album’s beginning and end: Willie taking two numbers with his sister (with longtime Family guitarist Jody Payne also on the tracks), only natural after him giving her a number or two in the set over many thousands of concerts and millions of miles over all the years as the family in the Family. He sings and plays on the first recorded versions of two of his recent compositions: “Back To Earth,” a new Nelson classic that was featured on both his Songbird and Last of the Breed albums, and “Until Tomorrow.” And making the album even more of a family affair, it was recorded at the world-class recording facility just outside of Austin that Willie founded, Pedernales Records, now owned by Bobbie’s son Freddy Fletcher, who also mixed Audiobiography.

Bobbie Nelson’s debut as a recording artist was inspired by a conversation that Justice Records founder and A&R director Randall Jamail had with her while they were having lunch one afternoon at an Austin restaurant. “I asked her if she had ever thought about writing her autobiography,” says Jamail. “She said that people had asked her that before, but the only way to tell her life story was through music.” The comment prompted Jamail to suggest that she record her first solo album for Justice, the Houston, Texas-based independent label that previously released two Willie Nelson albums, the Grammy-nominated Moonlight Becomes You and Just One Love, as well as the Nelson tribute compilation Twisted Willie. Bobbie Nelson joins Ian Moore and Great Gaines on the roster of the recently reactivated Justice label, which is distributed by Fontana Records via Universal Music.

Even though she’s 76, Nelson feels there’s still a lot of good music left in her.

“I feel that I have been really blessed. Hopefully I have a lot of music left to play,” she concludes. “I’m really a student of music, and always have been. And I hope I always remain a student of music. I love so many kinds of music, and I want to keep being better at what I love.”

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