Nelson teams with family and long-time bandmates for latest project
Willie Nelson announces The Willie Nelson Family for November 19th via Legacy Recordings. The project — his 16th overall for the label — features Nelson with sister Bobbie, sons Lukas and Micah, daughters Amy and Paula with band members performing songs by Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, George Harrison, Hank Williams, and others. It also represents the final recordings Nelson made with his drummer of more than 50 years, Paul English, who passed away in February 2020.
Produced by Willie and Steve Chadie and shaped around a setlist of 12 favorite spirit-driven songs from the Nelson Family repertoire, the album draws on deep Americana, including A.P. Carter’s “Keep It On The Sunnyside” and the traditional hymn “In The Garden.” It also celebrates classic songwriting from Williams (“I Saw The Light”) and Kristofferson (“Why Me”) to Harrison (“All Things Must Pass”) and Nelson — who penned half of the album’s compositions. The album was recorded and mixed by Chadie at Pedernales Studios in Austin, Texas.
“Family Bible,” the first single from the album, is available now. One of Nelson’s earliest compositions, “Family Bible” was penned in 1957, inspired by scenes of his grandmother singing “Rock of Ages” and reading from the Bible after supper. A struggling young songwriter moving to Houston, Nelson sold the song to Paul Buskirk, who enlisted singer Claude Gray to record Nelson’s original songs (including “Family Bible” and “Night Life”). Gray’s single version of “Family Bible” was released in February 1960 and reached No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart. The single’s success enabled Nelson to move to Nashville, where he established his reputation as a songwriter. Nelson recorded his own version of “Family Bible” for the first time on his 1971 album, Yesterday’s Wine and has featured the song as a staple in his live performances. The new studio recording of “Family Bible” on The Willie Nelson Family is an essential addition to Nelson’s catalog.
Willie’s son Lukas (who fronts his own band, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real) sings lead vocals on two of the album’s tracks — “All Things Must Pass” and “Keep It On The Sunnyside” — while sharing lead vocals with Willie on “I Saw the Light,” “I Thought About You, Lord” and “Why Me.”
Willie Nelson & Family are slated to headline Farm Aid 2021 in Hartford, Connecticut on Saturday, September 25th. This year’s Farm Aid lineup will include sets by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real and Particle Kid (Micah Nelson’s musical ensemble).
Nelson was one of the organizers of the first Farm Aid concert in 1985, an event raising awareness about the loss of family farms in America; the annual concerts are the fundraising cornerstone of Farm Aid, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on the land.
Willie Nelson, Bobbie Nelson and Chris Barton have co-authored Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music, a children’s picture book illustrated by Kyung Eun Han available in hardcover November 9th.
The Willie Nelson Family is the third new Willie Nelson studio album to be released on Legacy since July 2020. First Rose of Spring, released July 3, 2020, entered the Billboard Top Country Albums chart at No. 5, making Nelson the first artist to score a Top 10 album in every decade — seven in all — since Billboard launched its Top Country Albums chart in January 1964; First Rose of Spring is Nelson’s 53rd Top 10 album. Nelson’s second collection of standards from the Frank Sinatra repertoire, That’s Life, released February 26, 2021, debuted at No. 1 on both Billboard’s Jazz Albums chart and the Traditional Jazz Albums chart.
1. Heaven and Hell
2. Kneel At the Feet of Jesus
3. Laying My Burdens Down
4. Family Bible
5. In The Garden
6. All Things Must Pass
7. I Saw The Light
8. In God’s Eyes
9. Keep It On The Sunnyside
10. I Thought About You, Lord
11. Too Sick To Pray
12. Why Me