Archive for the ‘Awards and Honors’ Category

Willie Nelson honored with his own street name in Austin (May 2010)

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell shows a “Willie Nelson Blvd.” sign  as he called for support for honoring the music icon.

AUSTIN — Austin has no “Whiskey River,” but it will have a downtown street named for Willie Nelson.

The Austin City Council voted Thursday to add the iconic Texas balladeer’s name to Second Street downtown.

The Austin American-Statesman reports the city will install “Willie Nelson Boulevard” along the street. The street will retain Second Street as its formal name, but businesses and residents along the street will be able to receive mail using the new name.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit Capital Area Statues group is raising money to put a life-size statue of Nelson on Second Street in front of the “Austin City Limits” studio.

Nelson has lived in the Austin area for nearly 40 years.


This day in Willie Nelson history: “Highwaymen” goes gold (February 10, 1986)

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

On February 10, 1986, “The HighwayMan” album, is certified gold for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson

1. Highwayman
2. The Last Cowboy Song
3. Jim, I Wore A Tie Today
4. Big River
5. Committed To Parkview
6. Desperados Waiting For A Train
7. Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)
8. Welfare Line
9. Against The Wind
10. The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over

Willie Nelson inductee into 2018 Headware Association Hall of Fame

Monday, February 5th, 2018

The Headwear Association Announces 9th Annual Headwear Hall of Fame Inductees.  Inductees are Tom Petty, Jennifer Aniston, Willie Nelson, Erykah Badu, Joseph “Reverend Run” Simmons and Ava Gardner.  

The Headwear Association (THA) has announced the inductees for the Headwear Hall of Fame, and the honors go to Tom Petty, Jennifer Aniston, Willie Nelson, Erykah Badu, Joseph “Reverend Run” Simmons and Ava Gardner.

“This is the Ninth Annual Headwear Hall of Fame Induction. Every year, The Headwear Association recognizes individuals known for their signature style, which of course includes wearing a wide variety of hats,” said THA President, Garth Watrous. “We received dozens of nominations for the Headwear Hall of Fame via social media, including overwhelming support for Tom Petty. It is bittersweet that Petty joins this year’s inductees, but we are excited to welcome this year’s stylish individuals to the Headwear Hall of Fame.”

The THA Headwear Hall of Fame now totals 54 stylish individuals. The diverse group includes Princess Diana, Johnny Depp, Pharrell Williams, Jennifer Lopez, Samuel L Jackson, Diane Keaton, Humphrey Bogart, LL Cool J and more.  

See the complete Headwear Hall of Fame here:

Members of The Headwear Association nominated more than 50 legendary hat wearers, living and deceased. The Headwear Association board of directors voted and approved the final six honorees who will be formally inducted into The Headwear Hall of Fame at the 110th annual THA Gala event at The Central Park Boathouse on April 26, 2018.

The Hall of Fame Inductees:

Tom Petty wore hats on stage for decades, but perhaps his most iconic look is his ubiquitous top hat. Petty ruled MTV with innovative videos including “You Got Lucky,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Into the Great Wide Open” and “You’re So Bad,” all of which featured custom Top Hats.

Willie Nelson is a country legend who has regularly paired cowboy hats with his signature braids for decades. A staple of the Outlaw Country genre, Nelson pairs his Stetson cowboy hats with a little edge, and a lot of attitude and style.

Joseph “Reverend Run” Simmons is Hip Hop Royalty. From leather fedoras and Kangols back in the day, to his current penchant for wide brim fedoras, RUN DMC founder, Reverend Run, always tops off his style with a hat.

Erykah Badu burst onto the music scene with “Baduizm” and her signature African Turban in 1997. Since then the legendary singer has made turbans and outrageous hats part of her signature style. The internet is awash with images of Badu in glorious headwear, and there are even YouTube tutorials about how to style a turban like Badu.

Jennifer Aniston is known for her understated, classic style. Hats have been a signature wardrobe staple for Aniston for many years, and she is often seen in jeans and a fedora.

Ava Gardner was one of Hollywood’s most glamourous screen sirens. The American Film Institute ranked Gardner as one of the Top 50 Screen Legends of all time, and her style was equally legendary. Her hats were exquisite and she was breathtaking in them.  Fun Fact: Gardner was married to fellow Headwear Hall of Famer, Frank Sinatra.

For more on The Headwear Hall of Fame visit the THA website:

The Headwear Association is a 110-year old trade association, the oldest in the fashion industry.

Our birth was a chance meeting of traveling hat salesmen in 1907 who had just finished their seasonal selling trips in NYC. The first dinner was held at the Waldorf Astoria (then on 34th Street) on January 30, 1908 with 34 industry members present.

Our mission is to promote hats and the headwear industry throughout the world, and to foster goodwill and fellowship among those engaged in the headwear industry. The 110th annual THA Gala will be held at The Central Park Boathouse on April 28, 2018, and is open to anyone in the fashion and headwear industry.

Read more:


Willie Nelson breaks another boundary

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

photo:  Mark Humphrey

If anyone ever had any doubt, it’s now official — Willie Nelson is a man of letters.

He’s also broken another through another boundary in obtaining the official honor.

The Texas Institute of Letters has named Willie as a recipient of one of the 2018 awards bestowed by the non-profit organization founded in 1936 with the self-avowed mission of celebrating Texas literature and recognizing “distinctive literary achievement.”

That’s right folks, literary achievement.

The group’s website states the Texas Institute of Letters’ elected membership “consists of the state’s most respected writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalism and scholarship” and “gives awards to recognize outstanding literary works.”

They include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, the Academy Award, Tony Award and the MacArthur “Genius” grants, the TIL says. Membership is based on literary accomplishments and can be obtained only one way — through being elected by existing members.

When it came to this year’s awards, the organization decided to amend its bylaws to add songwriting to the list of writing genres it formally honors.

This is the first year the TIL has recognized a songwriter based on literary accomplishments and Willie is the first songwriter on which the award has been bestowed.

Willie’a among a group of 19 Texas writers selected for this year’s induction. The announcement includes a short bio of each of the recipients, with most of the blurbs citing the books or other forms of literature the author has created.

I love the reason for Willie’s induction, which is brief and directly to the point: It simply states “He’s Willie. Do we need to say anything else?”

Nope, not as far as I’m concerned.

I admired Willie’s songwriting all the way back to when he wore suits, ties and turtleneck sweaters — though not all at the same time. His earliest songs were big hits for others: “Crazy,” for Patsy Cline; “Hello Walls” for Faron Young, “Night Life” for Ray Price, and “Funny How the Time Slips Away,”recorded by a beaucoup of artists.

As a kid, I knew a great poet when I heard one.

Look at the lyrics to “Hello Walls,” when Willie, singing as a man distraught at a woman leaving him, talks to the walls, the window and the ceiling, respectively.

I especially like the way he addressed the window: “Well look here, is that a teardrop in the corner of your pane? Now, don’t you try to tell me that it’s rain.”

Now that’s poetic!

Willie now joins Bob Dylan, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature,  as a songwriter who’s been bestowed with a major literary award — and it’s fitting that songwriting is being placed on par with other types of writing when recognizing the poetic achievements of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Although some spoilsport critics complained about granting a songwriter the Nobel Prize for literature, I had long thought Dylan more than worthy of the honor as a great poet — so what if he sang his words? So did Homer when the ancient Greek recounted the tales “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” The same goes for Willie.

Now, that the Texas Institute of Letters has shattered its own glass ceiling by recognizing Willie’s literary achievements as a songwriter, can others be far behind? Surely, Kris Kristofferson, another Texas native and long considered one of the most poetic and literary songwriters in any genre, deserves inclusion. His trifecta of “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and the great “Sunday Morning Coming Down” alone ought to warrant inclusion, along with hordes of lesser-known gems in his songwriting catalogue.

I don’t know if the Texas Institute of Letters grants posthumous awards, but if it does, what about Texas songwriting master Guy Clark, who wrote the great “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train” and countless other great songs, or Townes Van Zandt, probably best known for writing Willie and Merle Haggard’s hit “Pancho and Lefty” and the Don Williams hit “If I Needed You” along with dozens of others.

They are not only among the greatest Texas songwriters — they’re among the best that America has ever produced.

As for Willie, he’s also set to join rocker Neil Young in a new western film directed by actress Daryl Hannah, titled “Paradox.” Willie’s sons Lukas and Micah Nelson, who often perform alongside Young these days, are also in the film. It’s uncertain if it will be coming to a theater near you, but it’s set to premier at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin next month.

While Willie is being honored by the Texas Institute of Letters for his literary accomplishments as a songwriter, he’s authored or co-authored a number of books, and the ones I’ve read are insightful, funny and well-written.

Some of his books include: “Willie: An Autobiography,” “The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road.”

I especially like the title of his most recent autobiography, hilariously titled “It’s a Long Story: My Life.”

Here’s hoping the story continues for a lot, lot longer.

Contact James Beaty at

Willie Nelson will become the first songwriter inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018
by:  Allen J. Schaben

Step aside, Bob Dylan: Willie Nelson is also a literary star.

Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, an honor that drew criticism from writers of prose and poetry who were upset to see the prize go to a musician. Now Nelson, the country music legend, will become the first songwriter to be inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters, one of the most prestigious literary organizations in the Lone Star State.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Nelson will be riding high, joining 18 other inductees, including novelist Bret Anthony Johnston, playwright Kirk Lynn and screenwriter Richard Linklater, in the new class, which will be honored in San Antonio this April. There’s no word as of yet whether Nelson will attend the ceremony or if he’ll be on the road again with his band.

In a news release, the institute offered this justification for the Red Headed Stranger’s selection: “He’s Willie. Do we need to say anything else?”

The institute’s president, Steven L. Davis of Texas State University, gave the Dallas Morning News a fuller explanation. It turns out that songwriters weren’t always on the institute’s mind.

“We began having discussions among the TIL council about quality writers whose works don’t always result in ‘books’ — playwrights, screenwriters, and, of course, songwriters,” Davis said. “The best writers in these genres are every bit as accomplished as authors of books — and yet the TIL has traditionally overlooked them, instead bestowing membership on authors of books.”

Nelson’s selection required a rule change to make songwriters eligible for induction into the institute. Nelson has cowritten several books, including “It’s a Long Story: My Life” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” but to be blunt, he’s better known for writing songs like “Crazy” and “Hello Walls.”

Willie Nelson named to Texas Institute of Letters

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

The Texas Institute of Letters is a non-profit Honor Society founded in 1936 to celebrate Texas literature and to recognize distinctive literary achievement. The TIL’s elected membership consists of the state’s most respected writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalism, and scholarship. Induction into the TIL is based on literary accomplishments. Application for membership is not accepted. The rules governing the selection of members and officers are contained in the TIL By-Laws. The TIL annually elects new members, gives awards to recognize outstanding literary works, and supports the Dobie Paisano Fellowship Program for writers.
by:  Michael Merschel

The Texas Institute of Letters, one of the most august and literary organizations in the state, has just elected a class of 19 writers to its elite ranks.

Among the noted screenwriters, poets and journalists is the group’s first inductee to be honored as a songwriter: Willie Nelson.

The short explanation of how the musician ended up in the venerable organization, which has been around since 1936 and has focused on authors,  is found in the group’s press release:

“He’s Willie. Do we need to say anything else?”

For a longer explanation, I asked TIL president Steven L. Davis, who is also curator at the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University.  He emailed back with a Texas-worthy tale:

“Here’s what happened,” he wrote. “I come from a literary archive where, as you know, we have a broad view of what qualifies as ‘literary writing’ — and we include screenwriters and songwriters in our archives.

“So we began having discussions among the TIL council about quality writers whose works don’t always result in ‘books’ — playwrights, screenwriters, and of course songwriters. The best writers in these genres are every bit as accomplished as authors of books — and yet the TIL has traditionally overlooked them, instead bestowing membership on authors of books.”

So a vote was held to change the rules to say:

Members shall be practicing writers who have demonstrated substantial literary achievement in their genres — which can include fiction, nonfiction prose, poetry, journalism, history, playwriting, songwriting, screenwriting, or any other genre that springs from the written word. In rare instances, persons who are not practicing writers may be considered for membership.

Davis says that not everyone agreed that songwriting qualified as a literary art. But the change was passed, at which point “a couple of our distinguished TIL fellows and past presidents put together a nomination on behalf of Willie Nelson.” It takes an 80 percent vote for a nominee to make it through.

“Willie made it with flying colors, as he should,” Davis said. “We did hear from Willie that he is ‘tremendously honored’ to be elected to the TIL.”

The new members will be inducted at the group’s annual meeting, to be held April 6-7 in San Antonio. A full list of the 2018 honorees — which includes The Dallas Morning News’  own Alfredo Corchado, is listed below, with hometowns/residences noted as provided by the TIL.

Willie Nelson receives Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Stardust” certified quadruple-platinum (January 9, 1990)

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

On January 9th, 1990, Willie Nelson’s “Stardust” album was certified quadruple-platinum.

1. Stardust
2. Georgia on My Mind
3. Blue Skies
4. All of Me
5. Unchained Melody
6. September Song
7. On the Sunny Side of the Street
8. Moonlight in Vermont
9. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
10. Someone to Watch over Me
11. Scarlett Ribbons
12. I Can See Clearly Now

Kris Kristofferson presents Willie Nelson with 1992 ACM Pioneer Award

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Willie Nelson, CMA Entertainer of the Year (1979)

Friday, December 29th, 2017

In 1979 the Country Music Association ratified what everybody already knew: Willie Hugh Nelson was named Entertainer of the Year, the highest award country music can give.  Of the five nominees — Kenny Rogers, Barbara Mandrell, the Statler Brothers and Crystal Gayle — Willie was probably the dark horse.  The clear favorite was Kenny Rogers, riding the huge success of ‘The Gambler.”

After sitting through the entire awards show and watching Kenny Rogers grab every award in sight, Willie figured he was off the hook.

“I thought Kenny was about to clean sweep,” Willie says.  “So I was surprised.  I was shocked.”  He was wearing his usual jeans and a neat cowboy shirt, his long hair pulled back in braids.  He took the microphone and thanked the audience modestly, started to turn away, then turned back to the audience.

“When you talk about entertainers,” Willie said, “Entertainers for years, not just one year, but entertainers over the years — I like to think about people like Little Jimmy Dickens, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky and all those people, and “I’d like to see these guys up here one of these years, because they certainly deserve to be.”

The applause was deafening.

Afterwards, Willie spoke again about his heroes, country music stars from the 1950’s who had a tremendous influence on the country music stars of the 1970s.  If Willie Nelson had his way, they would never be forgotten.

Later, he was asked if he thought he was singing with more confidence.  He paused for a long time before he answered.

“Yes, there’s a lot to that,” Willie said.  “There were a lot of years when I felt like I was singing to myself.  A lot of times I was. There was me and two couples out on the dance floor, and that was it.  The crowds have gotten bigger, and as the crowd gets bigger, your confidence grows.  Maybe you’re doing it right.”

Again, it seemed that Willie Nelson’s career couldn’t get any bigger.  Even The New York Times gushed the praises of the leather-tough singer from Texas.

“He plays with the vibrant enthusiasm of a Fats Waller,” wrote Al Rheinhart in the Times, “With the gleeful fulfillment of an artist who has finally found his audience, and through them, himself.  He is truly happy to be there, playing is music, and it shows.”

“An objective look at the present state of Willie Nelson’s nearly three-decade-long career indicates that he not only learned form the error of his ways, but he’s in fact gone a step further and turned them all into triumphs,” wrote Willie-watcher Bob Allen in country Music Magaine in 1980.  “For at least the last three years, some journalists have been predicting that his career was bound to peak any second now, and that it would all be downhill from there.  But the fact is it just seems to be gaining more and more momentum, almost by the day, and his universal popularity continues to grow.”

Willie, as usual, was philosophical — “I feel like I’ve made all the mistakes,” he says, “and I hope I’ve learned from them.”

by Michael Bane

“Willie Nelson Song of the Year” — Austin360 Awards 2017

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Read entire list here.
by:  Deborah Sengupta Stith and Peter Blackstock

What were the best things about Austin music in 2017? Every year about this time, we come up with answers, offering our favorite bands, records, venues and the like. But we recognize that while we strive to evaluate records on their critical merits, the process is ultimately subjective.

This year we decided to cast the net wider. We asked dozens of locals with deep knowledge of Austin’s music community to submit nominations, and then cast votes on the finalists, for our first-ever Austin360 Awards.

We’ve kept it simple in this inaugural year, with seven categories: Artist, Album, Song, Breakout Act, DJ/Dance Party, Venue and Residency. Here are the winners and finalists in each category.


Here’s a case where the winning entry not only recognizes an artist’s stellar work of achievement this year, it also helps to tell what 2017 was like for them. Back in January, fans were a bit worried: First Nelson called off a string of Las Vegas shows, and then he had to cancel three California dates. At 83, was he finally maybe not able to keep going “On the Road Again”?

So we checked up on Willie when he played the San Antonio rodeo in February, and we were pleased to report that it was one of the best shows we’d ever seen him play. It included a perfect message of assurance to fans, a humorous new song he’d recently written with his producer Buddy Cannon about the rumors that have been flying for years.

“I woke up still not dead again today,” he sang. “The news said I was gone, to my dismay. Don’t bury me, I’ve got a show to play. And I woke up still not dead again today.”

In April, that song surfaced on “God’s Problem Child,” which we contended was the best album Nelson had released since the 1990s. “Still Not Dead” is a novelty song, yes, but its lighthearted message and melody offered a dose of good news and good humor that was hard to come by in 2017. — P.B.

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

Thanks, Phil Weisman, for sending this great black and white photo, looks like from an award show.

Rolling Stone’s 40 best country albums of the year (Willie Nelson #8)

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

While a number of country veterans released their strongest albums in years – Willie Nelson’s God’s Problem Child and Brad Paisley’s Love and War, among them – 2017 belonged to new artists. Fresh faces like Carly Pearce, Luke Combs, Midland and RaeLynn delivered debut LPs that both looked forward and revived the tenets of the genre: personal stories, smart lyrics and sing-along hooks. After a few years of awkwardly wandering in the trend-chasing wilderness, Nashville is once again finding its footing, realizing that pop, rock and hip-hop influences can fully exist in country if they’re allowed to occur naturally. Elsewhere, the Americana world was also reliably on point, with LPs from David Rawlings, JD McPherson, Becca Mancari and Rhiannon Giddens illustrating the scope of modern roots music – there were records of introspective folk, twangy country, early rock and even Sixties protest songs. Herewith, our picks for the 40 best albums of the past year.

No. 8

It’s no small feat when a tried-and-true legend delivers some of his most masterful work in the latter years of his career. Released the day before his 84th birthday, Nelson uses humor, introspection, wistfulness and even a bit of optimism to address mortality (both the listener’s and his own) head on in nearly every one of the album’s 13 tracks.  Nelson’s  inimitable spirit and one-of-a-kind musicality shines as bright as ever on “Still Not Dead,” “Delete and Fast Forward,” “Little House on the Hill” and the Merle Haggard tribute “He Won’t Ever Be Gone.” However, it’s Nelson’s ever-present romantic side on tracks like “True Love,” “Your Memory Has a Mind of Its Own,” and “A Woman’s Love” that provide God’s Problem Child with some of its most distinct moments of heartfelt vitality. W. Hodge

See Rolling Stone’s Entire List of 40 albums here

Willie Nelson receives American FFA Degree

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

This day in Willie Nelson history: “On the Road Again” added to Grammy Hall of Fame (12/7/2010)

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

On December 7, 2010 single, the Grammy Hall of Fame announced that “On the Road Again,” is one of 30 songs joining the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Other selections include “Lovesick Blues” (1949) by Hank Williams with his Drifting Cowboys and “Steel Guitar Rag” (1936) by  Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys featuring Leon McAuliffe. Honored recordings must be at least 25 years old and be recognized for their “lasting qualitative or historical significance,” according to press materials. Recordings are reviewed annually by a committee of recording industry professionals and final approval is made by the Recording Academy Trustees. The list now totals 881 recordings.