Willie Nelson is featured on a new version of his classic hit “On the Road Again,” along with all 10 of this year’s ACM Awards’ nominees for new female and new male artist. The single, dubbed “On the Road Again (ACM Lifting Lives Edition),” will benefit ACM Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund.
The single, produced by Ross Copperman and Jimmy Robbins, will be available via Warner Music Nashville. It will be released to country radio on Thursday (Aug. 13).
COVID-19 caused the 55th ACM Awards to be delayed from their initial April 5 date to Sept. 16. That has kept this year’s nominees for new male and new female artist of the year in suspense – but has also allowed them to stay under the nominee spotlight longer. They are Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett, Jordan Davis, Russell Dickerson, Lindsay Ell, Riley Green, Caylee Hammack, Cody Johnson, Tenille Townes and Morgan Wallen.
“The Academy is honored to work with Willie Nelson and all 10 ACM Awards new artist nominees to create a new contemporary version of the classic ‘On the Road Again’…,” said Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy of Country Music. “This is a powerful way to showcase so many of our newer and fast-rising artists alongside one of our genre’s most legendary artists and [most] iconic songs of all time.”
Nelson wrote “On the Road Again” for the 1980 film Honeysuckle Rose, in which he starred. It brought him an Oscar nomination for best original song and a Grammy Award for best country song.
Nelson’s original recording, which he produced, reached No. 1 on Hot Country Songs in November 1980. It cracked the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100—Nelson’s biggest crossover hit to that date. It was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011.
In 2016, the song was one of three country classics included in the all-star “Forever Country,” attributed to Artists of Then, Now & Forever. The single, created to honor the CMA on its 50th anniversary, also included John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” Shane McAnally produced the single, which topped Hot Country Songs for two weeks.
The ACM Awards will take place in Nashville for the first time in the show’s history, broadcasting from three iconic country music venues — the Grand Ole Opry House, Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe. Keith Urban, a 15-time ACM Award winner, is set to host.