Willie Nelson is the recipient of the LBJ Foundation’s 2023 LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award, and a diverse array of big-name country stars are scheduled to perform in his honor. Eric Church, Sam Hunt, Elle King and Lyle Lovett will take the stage at a gala event in tribute to Nelson in his home state of Texas.
Church has performed in Nelson’s honor in the past: In 2019, he participated in the all-star Willie: Life & Songs of an American Outlaw, performing a cover of Nelson’s “Me and Paul.” King has previously toured with Nelson, while Lovett has a lengthy history of performing with and for his fellow Texan, including, most recently, a slot on Nelson’s all-star 90th birthday tribute show this month.
Hunt is the most surprising choice for the lineup of the LBJ Foundation gala, though he’s known for bringing unexpected musical influences and surprising collaborations to the table.
During the gala, Nelson will be feted for his longstanding commitment to advocating for American farmers. Since 1985, his annual Farm Aid benefit concert — a project that Nelson founded with Neil Young and John Mellencamp — has raised funds to benefit family farms and combat food insecurity in rural communities.
Net proceeds from the gala will benefit the Willie Nelson Endowment for Uplifting Rural Communities at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, a newly-established philanthropic effort at the University of Texas at Austin.
Previous recipients of the LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award include President Jimmy Carter, President George H.W. Bush, Justice Ruther Bader Ginsburg, John McCain and more.
The gala honoring Nelson will be held on May 12 at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.