Willie Nelson at the 2007 BMI Awards


source:  www.austin360.com
by Michael Corcoran

From Tuesday night’s BMI Awards, a black tie affair held at the performing right organization’s Music Row offices in Nashville, the night before the CMAs:

U2’s Bono said via videotape that when he was growing up and looking at America, he couldn’t decide if he wanted to be a cowboy or an Indian. “Then I saw Willie Nelson,” he said, “and he was both.” Other videotaped salutes to Willie, named a BMI Icon, came from two old Willie friends who are no longer with us: Waylon Jennings and Ray Charles.

Those who did show up for Tuesday night’s soiree included Jessica Simpson, who seems to be stalking Willie these days (as far as stalkers go …), Sheryl Crow, Nicole Kidman, Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill and on and on. Those who performed included Keith Urban, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson and Toby Keith.

CMT.com reports that Nelson’s Maui neighbor Kristofferson gave perhaps the most heartwarming tribute before he and Emmylou brought the house down with a duet on “Til I Can Gain Control.” Comparing Willie to Stephen Foster, Kristofferson went on to say “His voice and his guitar are a part of his body and soul. … Like Muhammad Ali and Johnny Cash, he’s become more than the art form that made him famous. … I’m still in awe of his artistry. … I love you, Willie. I always have, I always will.”

Recent ACL Fest headturner Jeffrey Steele was named Songwriter of the Year at the event.

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