Music legend Willie Nelson recently declared that he was “humbled and proud” to be awarded the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for popular song, as his latest album, Summertime, featuring the music of George and Ira Gershwin, is out on February 26.
The prize recognises the work of artists whose songs promote musical expression and cultural understanding.
“It was one of the biggest compliments that anyone could give you, so naturally I was proud,” Nelson told Texas station KSAT. “To me, a boy from Abbott [Texas], they’re all big deals. The first time I got paid for playing was a big deal.”
He was awarded the prize during a November concert in Washington, DC which featured Nelson’s music performed by a number of artists. Paul Simon, a previous recipient of the prize, also performed. Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel have also won the award. During the concert Nelson performed his song Living in the Promised Land with his sons Lucas and Micah. It was an appropriate choice, Nelson said, given that the concert audience was made up mostly of United States congressmen.
“I just thought that they might need to be reminded of what’s on our Statue of Liberty, ‘Bring us your tired and weak, and we will make them strong’,” Nelson declared. “That’s who we are.”