Grammy week events begin with salute to Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson, left, and George Strait perform at Willie: Life & Songs Of An American Outlaw at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Al Wagner/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kacey Musgraves, Dave Matthews and Lukas Nelson saluted the outlaw king of country music Willie Nelson with tributes and performances at a famed Los Angeles studio.

The Recording Academy’s Producers and Engineers Wing honored Nelson on Wednesday night ahead of Sunday’s Grammy Awards.

The 85-year-old Texas singer-songwriter was a man of few words when he was presented with a plaque, jokingly asking if he was graduating. He thanked all the producers and engineers, adding that “I’m glad they liked me ’cause they could have really screwed me up.”

Nelson is nominated for two Grammys: best traditional pop vocal album for “My Way,” a covers album of Frank Sinatra; and best American roots performance for “Last Man Standing.”

The event is regularly held in the small auditorium at The Village, the studio where Fleetwood Mac recorded their seminal record “Tusk,” Bob Dylan recorded “Forever Young” and the hit soundtracks for “The Bodyguard” and “Moulin Rouge” were mixed. Artists and songwriters including Diane Warren, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Ziggy Marley, Lisa Loeb, Feist and more attended the event.

Musgraves, who is nominated for three Grammys including album of the year, had much more to say about the “Red-Headed Stranger.”

She said her fellow Texan has an ability to bring together people, no matter their differences: “Underdogs, outliers, Republicans, rappers, presidents. Everyone loves Willie,” Musgraves said.

Nelson’s songs are so iconic, “they’re never going to die, and let’s get real: He’s probably not either,” she said

Matthews played the Nelson-penned song “Funny How Time Slips Away,” and a song Matthews wrote that he got Nelson to record, called “Gravedigger.”

Matthews was joined by two of Nelson’s sons, Micah and Lukas, to help cover songs like “Crazy,” and “I Thought About You, Lord.” Lukas Nelson, who worked on the soundtrack and film for “A Star Is Born” with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, can sing a dead-on impersonation of his father’s unique high singing style.

But a gruff-sounding Willie returned to the stage to trade guitar licks and sing with his sons on “Living in the Promiseland,” before ending with his trademark, “On the Road Again.”

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Online:

www.grammy.org

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Follow Kristin M. Hall at Twitter.com/kmhall

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