Buddy Cannon and Willie Nelson, 2017 Grammy Award Winners “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin”

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by:  Juli Thanki

Longtime producer Buddy Cannon hit a career milestone on Sunday night: his first Grammy Award.

“Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin,” which Cannon co-produced with Matt Rollings (a man he describes as “one of the best musicians that’s ever been in this town”), was named Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, beating out releases by Andrea Bocelli, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, and Josh Groban.

“It was a heavy category for sure,” Cannon said on Monday. “If I pulled myself out of the equation and looked at the names of all five nominees, Willie is as strong as any of them. I thought we had a chance.”

Cannon didn’t fly to Los Angeles for the awards show. Instead, he had a jam session with his mother, 92-year-old harmonica player and songwriter Lyndel Rhodes, then came home to watch the pre-telecast ceremony on the Grammy website. “It’s Matt’s first (Grammy win) and my first. We were both just bouncing off the walls,” he said.

After 10 years of making records together, Nelson and Cannon have it down to a science. “It’s like riding a bicycle. We do our thing. It’s easy, and it makes me nervous as hell every time,” Cannon admitted. “I don’t know why. Getting ready to go in and record your hero, it just makes me nervous.

“His songs have always been an inspiration for me as a songwriter. His singing and his guitar playing have been inspiring to me as a musician. I think anything I do has a little bit of Willie’s influence in it. It’s very gratifying to know that one of your heroes just happens to be a great guy who loves to laugh and have a good time.”

While many other Grammy winners celebrated their victories well into the night, Cannon didn’t even take a coffee break: “I’m working on a record for a band my daughter sings in called the Likely Culprits, and I’m co-producing it with Ronnie Bowman. As soon as the announcement came that we’d won the Grammy, Ronnie knocked on my door, we went upstairs and went to work.”

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