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Legendary Country Singer Releases New CD - 2002-02-11

Willie Nelson recorded his first single more than 45 years ago. Since then, the Texas-born singer-songwriter has composed thousands of songs, and recorded more than 100 albums.

He also was inducted into the Songwriters and Country Music Halls of Fame, and received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy and Kennedy Center Honor.

Willie Nelson's latest accomplishment, the critically-acclaimed album, The Great Divide.

In the past two years alone, Willie Nelson has recorded six albums that cover a wide range of styles, from blues standards and gospel, even a collection of children's songs. His latest project, The Great Divide, revolves around personal relationships and philosophies, and a musician's life on the road.

The album was produced by 31-year-old Matt Serletic, who was recently named Chairman and CEO of Virgin Records America. A longtime Willie Nelson fan, Matt says The Great Divide contains "honest, passionate music, as told by the world's most unforgettable storyteller."

Willie is considered a Country music legend and an American icon. But, his success came with some personal hardships, including several divorces and much-publicized troubles with the Internal Revenue Service in the late-1980s.

Constant touring has been especially challenging, but Willie says, "I think this is what I'm supposed to be doing. It has its ups and downs, but I love it."

The 12 songs on Willie's new CD were written by some of today's most respected songwriters. Bernie Taupin, Elton John's lyricist, composed four of the 12 tracks. Rob Thomas, frontman for rock band Matchbox Twenty, wrote three, including this tune, called "Maria (Shut Up And Kiss Me)."

Willie also recorded his version of Mickey Newbury's "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time. Other highlights of The Great Divide are his duets with Bonnie Raitt, Brian McKnight, Kid Rock, Lee Ann Womack and Sheryl Crow.

Fans who purchase the CD receive an added bonus. It features new computer technology called the CD Key to access a behind-the-scenes video of the making of the album, never-before-seen photographs, and excerpts from Willie's new book, The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes.

Willie Nelson recently kicked-off a U.S. concert tour, which is scheduled to run through April. In June, he'll head to Europe for a month-long series of shows in England, Ireland and Germany.

Next year, Willie will turn 70 years old, but he says he has no intention of retiring from his five-decade career. He said, "I feel like, well, I'm still out here on the road, I'm still touring and I still like it. So, I don't have any plans to stop just yet."

Willie Nelson has three more albums ready for release. They include a reggae album; a jazz collection he recorded with Paul Buskirk; and a duet album with Ray Price.

The first single from The Great Divide teams Willie with Lee Ann Womack. Written by Matt Serletic and Bernie Taupin, it features Alison Krauss on fiddle and Dan Dugmore on pedal steel.