Every year the Library of Congress awards the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding. Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel and Carole King are all past winners.
So is Willie Nelson.
In November, Nelson was presented his award at the Gershwin Prize tribute concert with Neil Young, Paul Simon, Rosanne Cash, and Jamey Johnson all performing some of Nelson’s most popular songs. But Nelson didn’t go to just gather another piece for the trophy case. At the event, he announced he had recorded an entire album of Gershwin songs, “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin.”
“When I was just a small guy, I remember hearing all these great Gershwin songs,” Nelson told Rolling Stone. “They’ll be around forever because great music like that just does not go away.”
On top of songs like “I Got Rhythm” and “Love is Here to Stay” are duets with Cyndi Lauper and Sheryl Crow.
The Gershwin Prize tribute concert where Willie made his initial announcement airs on PBS this Friday, Jan. 15, while the album is slated for release on Feb. 26.