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Willie Nelson Discusses Live Music's Return During SXSW Keynote Speech


Willie Nelson, arguably the greatest singer-songwriter ever associated with Austin, was the keynote speaker for this year's SXSW (South by Southwest), which is being held digitally from March 16-20 due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

A conversation promoting a socially-distanced event turned to when it'll be safe enough for live music to make a comeback.

"I don't want to do a show anywhere at any time where there's a danger of somebody getting sick," Nelson said in a prerecorded Q&A. "That's going to have a lot to do with when I go back to work."

In the meantime, Nelson rekindles old memories by hanging out in his tour bus.


"Every now and then I go and sit in it just to pretend I'm going somewhere," Nelson added.

Nelson's part of an initial list of featured speakers and conference sessions. Noteworthy speakers and session participants include another Austin icon, Matthew McConaughey, plus a stacked list of Emmy winners, Grammy recipients, Olympic athletes, philanthropists and businesspeople, highlighted by Sir Richard Branson, Samantha Bee, Chiquis, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Michael Lewis, Lil Dicky, Barry Jenkins, Cynthia Erivo, The Chainsmokers and Taraji P. Henson.

This year's event has also featured the digital equivalent of music showcases and film festival screenings.


Sessions fall under one of seven conference themes: A New UrgencyChallenging Tech's Path ForwardCultural Resilience in the ArtsThe Rebirth of BusinessTransforming the Entertainment LandscapeConnection in Disconnection; and An Uncharted Future.

For more on this year's themes and format, visit SXSW's website.

Read More: Toby Keith and Ricky Skaggs Reportedly Awarded National Medal of the Arts by President Donald Trump

SXSW's bio of Nelson partially sums up why he's one of Texas' most successful and most loved creative minds.


"(Nelson) has earned every conceivable award as a musician and continues to thrive as a relevant and progressive musical and cultural force," it reads. "In recent years, he has delivered more than a dozen new albums, released a Top 10 New York Times' bestsellers book, again headlined Farm Aid, an event he co-founded in 1985, been honored by the Library of Congress with their Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, received his 5th degree black belt in Gong Kwon Yu Sul, headlined the annual Luck Reunion food and music festival during SXSW, and launched his cannabis companies Willie's Reserve and Willie's Remedy."

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