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BMI to honor Willie Nelson as music icon

Another award will be added to Willie Nelson’s collection of accolades.

Broadcast Music Inc. announced Thursday that it will bestow upon Nelson its icon designation during its 55th annual Country Awards Nov. 6 in Nashville.

BMI gives the honor to songwriters and artists who have had a "unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers."

Nelson certainly fits the bill. Before he became a star in the '70s, his songs were hits for Ray Price ("Night Life"), Patsy Cline ("Crazy"), Faron Young ("Hello Walls"), and Billy Walker ("Funny How Time Slips Away").

With pal Waylon Jennings, he was part of country music's outlaw movement that eschewed the conventions of Nashville's Music Row.

He incorporated rock, pop, jazz, folk and blues into his music, used unconventional phrasing as a singer and developed a distinct, Latin-flavored guitar style.

He's widely credited with helping influence the new traditionalist and alternative country movements of the '80s and '90s.

At 74, Nelson remains a prolific performer and recording artist. Earlier this year, he released "Last of the Breed" with Merle Haggard and Price. He put out two albums in 2006: "You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker" and the Ryan Adams-produced "Songbird," which had him covering songs by the Grateful Dead, Leonard Cohen and Fleetwood Mac.

Previous winners of BMI's icon award include Haggard, Dolly Parton, Whisperin' Bill Anderson, Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn, the Bee Gees, Isaac Hayes, Ray Davies, James Brown and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

BMI represents more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and publishers in all genres of music.

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