Willie Nelson Announced As Keynote Speaker At SXSW Online 2021

19 January 2021 | 4:58 pm | Mallory Arbour

Willie Nelson has been announced as the keynote speaker for this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals.

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Legendary musician, philanthropist, and entrepreneur Willie Nelson has been announced as the keynote speaker for this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals, a premiere digital experience from March 16-20.

His appearance for SXSW Online will follow the February 26 release of his 71st studio album, That’s Life - his second tribute to the songs of Frank Sinatra. The first, 2018’s My Way won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, marking his 13th career Grammy win.   

“No individual has had the cultural impact on, or been more synonymous with the creative vibrancy of Austin than Willie Nelson and we are incredibly honoured to have him as a SXSW Online 2021 keynote,” said Hugh Forrest, SXSW chief programming officer.

The 87-year-old will keynote along with a line-up of featured speakers across entertainment, culture and technology over 230 conference sessions. Other speakers and panelists include entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, Emmy Award-winning host Samantha Bee, Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, Queen Latifah, LL Cool J and electropop duo, the Chainsmokers.  

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SXSW Online will include conference sessions, music showcases, film screenings, comedy content, online exhibitions, word class networking and professional development opportunities from across with globe.

Programming sessions have been organised by themes – A New Urgency, Challenging Tech’s Path Forward, Cultural Resilience in the Arts, The Rebirth Of Business, Transforming the Entertainment Landscape, Connection in Disconnection, and An Uncharted Future – and will address the current state of music and technology and what the future holds.

Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery and attracts more than 100,000 each year.

Following the cancellation of last year's event; SXSW moves to a digital format in 2021, amidst the ongoing restrictions placed on large gatherings due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Registration and more information for SXSW Online can be found here.

Image: via willienelson.com