SXSW adds Garth Brooks as music keynote, plus many other featured speakers

Garth Brooks will be a keynote speaker at South by Southwest on March 17. CONTRIBUTED
Garth Brooks will be a keynote speaker at South by Southwest on March 17. CONTRIBUTED

Garth Brooks, the 1990s country superstar who remains the biggest-selling solo artist in music history, will deliver one of South by Southwest’s music keynotes on March 17, the conference announced Thursday morning.

Brooks will have a conversation with Steve Boom, vice president of Amazon Music. SXSW’s statement made no mention of Brooks performing while he’s here, though that announcement could still be forthcoming. Brooks joins previously announced music keynotes Nile Rodgers (March 15), the legendary producer and co-founder of funk band Chic, and industry figure Zane Lowe (March 16), creative director for Apple’s Beats 1 global radio station.

After largely retiring from the music business just past the turn of the century, Brooks returned in 2014 with “Man Against Machine,” his ninth studio album, and last fall’s “Gunslinger.” Once an automatic multiplatinum-seller, Brooks hasn’t had nearly as high sales figures in his return, but he remains a major concert draw, selling out multiple nights at arenas in Cincinnati, Memphis and Edmonton, Alberta, in the past two months.

Where’s the party at? Check out our complete list of the best unofficial parties during SXSW 2017

SXSW also has added a handful of high-profile featured speakers, including:

  • Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, co-founder of the iconic 1980s rap trio Run-DMC;
  • Andre Cymone and Dez Dickerson, original members of Prince’s band the Revolution;
  • Warren G, rapper and hip-hop producer and co-founder of the early-d’90s band 213 with Snoop Dogg;
  • Mike Posner, pop singer-songwriter behind the Grammy-nominated 2016 smash “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”;
  • Tip “T.I.” Harris, multiplatium-selling hip-hop star and co-owner of streaming service Tidal with Jay Z, Beyonce and others;
  • Residente, Puerto Rican rapper and founder of the Latin Grammy-winning outfit Calle 13.

In addition, two major panels were announced. A discussion of technological innovations in music with hip-hop artist A$AP Ferg, Billboard editorial director Mike Bruno, Breakfast Club host Angela Yee and Charles Attal, co-founder of Austin-based concert and festival promoter C3 Presents. And a “music influencers” session finds legendary producer and executive Lou Adler teaming up with Coachella Festival founder Paul Tollett and Grammy Foundation vice president Scott Goldman.


Author: Peter Blackstock

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

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