FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 11, 2022
Farm Aid Mourns the Passing of Artist Bobbie Nelson
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — On behalf of Farm Aid, Executive Director Carolyn Mugar has issued the following statement on the death of Bobbie Nelson, who passed away on March 10. Bobbie is the sister of President and Founder Willie Nelson and a beloved Farm Aid artist who played every live Farm Aid music and food festival since the organization’s founding in 1985.
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Bobbie Nelson, Farm Aid artist and beloved “little” sister to our President and Founder Willie Nelson. Bobbie was a cherished member of the Farm Aid family, and her incredible piano talents delighted Farm Aid audiences for more than 36 years. Bobbie’s presence on the Farm Aid stage was a hallmark of every festival, and her warm spirit will forever be a part of Farm Aid. Bobbie was a quiet, steadfast champion for Farm Aid and farmers, and we know our entire community is grateful to have experienced her musical gifts.
Bobbie Lee Nelson, age 91, was born in Abbot, Texas, on January 1, 1931. A talented pianist and vocalist, Bobbie was a member of her younger brother’s band, Willie Nelson and Family, for nearly 50 years. With the encouragement of her grandparents, Nancy and Alfred Nelson, she began playing piano at the age of five and soon could read and write music easily. Bobbie spent much of her early life in rural Texas. To help support the family, she and her brother worked the fields picking vegetables and cotton.
Bobbie played piano in several local churches and by age 16, she was playing with Willie and her father in her then-husband’s band, Bud Fletcher and the Texans. She joined Willie in the studio for the first time in 1973 to record “The Troublemaker.” In addition to her recordings with Willie and Family, Bobbie and Willie released five gospel albums. In 2008, she released her solo debut album, “Audiobiography.” She was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017. Bobbie and Willie published an autobiography, “Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band,” in 2020, and together they wrote a children’s book, “Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music,” published last year.
Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Margo Price host an annual festival to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. For more than 35 years, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $64 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.