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Willie Nelson to receive high honor for lasting influence on nation's musical landscape

Willie Nelson to receive high honor for influence on nation's music

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Willie Nelson is this year's recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Photo by Shelley Neuman

In an announcement Thursday, the Library of Congress revealed that Willie Nelson will receive this year's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The national award honors singers, songwriters and musicians who have spent their lives shaping our nations's cultural landscape. He is the first country musician to receive the prestigious honor.

 "It is an honor to be the next recipient of the Gershwin Prize," Nelson said. 

 For six decades, the Texas native has inspired and influenced musicians with his singular, genre-bending approach to country music.

"Like America itself, [Nelson] has absorbed and assimilated diverse stylistic influences into his stories and songs. He has helped make country music one of the most universally beloved forms of American artistic expression," said Librarian of Congress James Billington in a release.

The Red Headed Stranger has won 11 Grammys, nine Country Music Association Awards and seven American Music Awards throughout his career. With this latest award, Nelson joins the ranks of previous Gershwin Prize winners, including Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Carole King and Billy Joel.

"It is an honor to be the next recipient of the Gershwin Prize. I appreciate it greatly," Nelson said. He will receive the prize in Washington, D.C. in November.