Willie Nelson’s album of Gershwin songs due Feb. 26

Willie Nelson performs with his sons Lukas, left, and Micah at the Gershwin Prize ceremony, airing Jan. 15 on KLRU. Phobo by Scott Henrichsen
Willie Nelson performs with his sons Lukas, left, and Micah at the Gershwin Prize ceremony, airing Jan. 15 on KLRU. Photo by Scott Henrichsen

To George and Ira, from Willie: “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” is set for a Feb. 26 release on Legacy Recordings, the Sony-affiliated label announced Tuesday.

Nelson recently revealed he had an album of songs by the legendary 20th-century songwriting brothers in the works. The news came at a November ceremony in Washington, D.C.,  in which Nelson was awarded the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. A 90-minute program of the ceremony’s tribute concert, with Paul Simon, Rosanne Cash, Neil Young and others performing Nelson’s songs, airs this Friday, Jan. 15, at 8 p.m. on PBS stations, including Austin’s KLRU.

In addition to the timeless title track, “Summertime” includes Willie’s renditions of “Someone to Watch Over Me” (which he first recorded for his landmark 1978 album “Stardust”), “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “I Got Rhythm,” “But Not for Me,” “Love Is Here to Stay” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” The record also features two duets: “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” with Cyndi Lauper and “Embraceable You” with Sheryl Crow.

Frequent Nelson producer Buddy Cannon helmed the sessions along with pianist Matt Rollings. Willie’s Family bandmates Bobbie Nelson, Kevin Smith and Mickey Raphael also contributed, along with Dean Parks, Paul Franklin, David Piltch and Jay Bellerose.

In accepting the Gershwin Award, Nelson offered his opinion that “Ira and George Gershwin were just fantastic writers. They wrote some of the greatest songs ever.”

Author: Peter Blackstock

Music writer for the Austin American-Statesman and austin360.com. Twitter: @Blackstock360

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