Willie Nelson Named Keynote Speaker at 2021 SXSW Online Conference

He'll highlight the online-only event in March of this year.

Written by Chris Parton
Willie Nelson Named Keynote Speaker at 2021 SXSW Online Conference
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 13: Willie Nelson performs onstage during the 53rd annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 13, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)

Willie Nelson has been revealed as keynote speaker at the 2021 South by Southwest event, which will be held in a virtual format for the second year in a row due to Covid-19.

Dubbed the 2021 SXSW Online conference, the event will take place from March 16 – 20 in digital form, and Nelson will highlight the week of speakers. He has a long history of involvement with the festival and conference — including his yearly Luck Reunion concerts — and an even longer history with the city of Austin, where the event is normally held.

“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 honored to have him as a SXSW Online 2021 Keynote,” explains SXSW Chief Programming Officer, Hugh Forrest.

Other speakers announced include actor Matthew McConaughey, comedian Samantha Bee and rapper Wyclef Jean, LL Cool J and Queen Latifah, The Chainsmokers, and more. Plus, a massive schedule of more than 200 panel discussions are planned, including ones exploring the Genius: Aretha Franklin docuseries, the impact of TikTok and of course, where the music industry is headed in the wake of Covid-19.

With nearly 100 studio albums already to his credit, Willie Nelson plans to release his second tribute to Frank Sinatra, That’s Life, on February 26.