In a bill presented before the 81st Legislature of the State of Texas this week, Willie Nelson has been appointed the 2009 Texas State Musician. He joins an elite group of musicians from the Lone Star state who've had the honor bestowed upon them, including Billy Joe Shaver, Ray Benson, Dale Watson and legendary fiddler Johnny Gimble.

Willie was born in the tiny town of Abbott, Texas (pop. 300). Upon learning of the appointment, the 76-year-old icon, who continues to keep up a busy tour schedule, said, "I consider it a great honor, and I want to thank everyone who helped make it happen."

Every two years, the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) collects nominations from the arts and cultural community for the appointment of a state musician as well as poet laureate and visual artists.

Bill HCR 254, proclaiming Willie State Musician reads:

"WHEREAS, The Texas Commission on the Arts has announced the 2009 and 2010 appointments for the positions of State Poet Laureate, State Musician, State Two-Dimensional Artist, and State Three-Dimensional Artist; and WHEREAS, Honorees are chosen for the exceptional quality of their work and for their outstanding commitment to the arts in Texas; nominees must either be native Texans or have resided in the state for at least five years; in addition, they must have received critical recognition from state, regional, and national publications, and they must have attained the highest levels of excellence in their respective disciplines.

"WHEREAS, Willie Nelson is the 2009 Texas State Musician; this legendary Texas performer was playing the guitar at the age of 6 and performing at 10; after establishing himself in Nashville as a hit songwriter, he returned to Texas and soon became world-famous as an interpreter of his own songs and as an icon of the outlaw country music movement; he has further distinguished himself as a film and television actor and entrepreneur, as well as an ever-popular touring concert artist who has been involved in numerous charity events such as FarmAid."