Kacey Musgraves / Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson Honored at Recording Academy P&E Wing Celebration

Photo Credit: Getty Images for NARAS

The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing® honored eight-time GRAMMY® Award winner Willie Nelson at its annual GRAMMY Week celebration yesterday, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, at The Village Studios in West Los Angeles. Now in its 12th year, the event celebrated the artistic achievements and creative genius of Nelson. The event also acknowledged the overall industry contributions of the Producers & Engineers Wing’s more than 6,400 professional members. GRAMMY Week culminates with the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards® on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, airing live on the CBS Television Network, at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT.

Kacey Musgraves, Dave Matthews, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Ziggy Marley, Lisa Loeb, Feist, and Diane Warren were all in attendance to help honor the beloved music icon. While introducing Willie Nelson, Kacey Musgraves spoke to the crowd about Nelson’s keen ability to unite people from all demographics; from women to men, rappers and Presidents. She told a quick story about when she inquisitively asked him, “Why didn’t you run for President?” and Willie responded matter of factly, “Because I’d win!” The room full of music industry guests burst out in agreeable laugher.

Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy said, Willie is an incomparable songwriter, musician and producer, and he has amassed admirable credentials as an author, actor, and activist, and he continues to thrive as a relevant and progressive musical and cultural force.” Portnow continued, “Since I began my career in this industry, and certainly since taking leadership of the Recording Academy in 2002, I have been privileged to work with artists who expand their craft into larger issues. Willie is one of the icons, and he has been a standard-bearer for all of us.”

Dave Matthews surprised the crowd with a stripped down version of Nelson’s song, “Funny How Time Slips Away.” Continuing the night’s theme of inclusiveness, Willie closed out the show by joining Matthews and performing alongside his sons Lukas and Micah singing, “Living In the Promise Land.”

With a six-decade career and more than 200 albums, Nelson is the creative force behind historic recordings such as “Crazy,” Red Headed Stranger, and Stardust. He has earned innumerable accolades as a songwriter and musician, while also amassing admirable credentials as an author, actor, and activist, and he continues to thrive as a relevant and progressive musical and cultural force. A leading figure in outlaw country music, he is also known for his hugely successful collaborations with Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Julio Iglesias, and with the Highwaymen supergroup (Johnny Cash, Jennings, Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson). Never one to play it safe, his distinctive style combines elements of jazz, blues, swing, honky-tonk, traditional pop, folk, and rock. During the past 10 years, Nelson has delivered 14 new albums, released the Top 10 New York Times’ bestselling book, It’s A Long Story: My Life, and continues to headline Farm Aid, an event he co-founded in 1985. Additionally, Nelson has headlined three years of the ongoing Luck Reunion food and music festival at his ranch in Luck, Texas, during SXSW, announced the launch of his cannabis company Willie’s Reserve, and graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Nelson continues to record more new songs for upcoming projects as well as touring throughout North America. His latest 2018 release is a tribute to the songs sung by Frank Sinatra, titled, fittingly, My Way; and he just recently debuted a new single, “Vote ‘Em Out.” In addition to eight GRAMMY Awards, Nelson has been recognized by the Recording Academy with the President’s Merit Award (1986), GRAMMY Legend Award (1990), and Lifetime Achievement Award (2000).

On Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, the P&E Wing, along with the Recording Academy’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, also helped announce an unprecedented new initiative that aims to expand opportunities for female music producers and engineers. The Producer & Engineer Inclusion Initiative is the inaugural action of a larger strategy to address gender inequity in the music industry. The Inclusion Initiative calls on any entity or individual responsible for or involved in selecting and hiring producers and engineers to commit to making hiring decisions only after considering a slate of candidates that includes at least two women. It also asks working producers to take gender diversity challenges in music’s technical fields into account when determining who to mentor and prepare for development and advancement opportunities. A diverse and impressive lineup of more than 200 artists, producers, labels, agencies, management companies, and other stakeholders, including Justin Bieber, Cardi B, Common, Andra Day, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, John Legend, Shawn Mendes, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, P!NK, Post Malone, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and more have already signed on to the initiative, signifying their commitment to diversity and overcoming long standing barriers to success in the music industry.

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