“Black Belt Willie”: the Mellow Minstrel is master of more than music

Willie Nelson ears his 5th degree black belt (photo courtesy of Austin American-Statesman, Ralph Barrera)

Willie Nelson earns his 5th degree black belt (photo courtesy of Austin American-Statesman, Ralph Barrera)

Art is art, be it musical or martial. After nearly 20 years of dedicated study, country music icon Willie Nelson was promoted to 5th degree black belt on Monday (4/28) in the Korean martial art of GongKwon Yusul. Not too shabby for a man who turns 81 today!

Though Nelson didn’t show off his skills during the low-key ceremony held at his dojang (training hall) in Austin, Texas, his instructor, Grand Master Sam Um, stated that Nelson could definitely hold his own and also pointed out that “he (Nelson) has more stamina than I do!” Of course, we all know that Willie has very effective ways of conserving his energy.

The “Red-Headed Stranger” joins an impressive list of celebrities and icons who have also earned black belt-status in their respective martial arts, including Ed O’Neil (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), James Caan (Gosoku Ryu Karate), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Taekwondo), and the late/great Elvis Presley (Chito Ryu and Kempo Karate).

Nelson with Grand Master Sam Um (courtesy Ralph Barrera)

Nelson with Grand Master Sam Um (courtesy Ralph Barrera)

We here at Karaoke Cloud congratulate you, Master Nelson, both for your promotion and the celebration of your 81st birthday. We hope you keep on kickin’ for many years to come!

L.A. Goes Country: New art exhibit honors country music icons

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When you think about Los Angeles, what images usually come to mind? Movie stars? Liberal politics? Rap music? If you were to take a poll my guess would be that country music wouldn’t exactly top the list. “Country: Portraits of an American Sound,” a new photo exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography may take strides in changing that.

Running from May 31 through September 28, the new exhibit will feature photographs of the most iconic country music performers of all time taken by various photographers, pro and amateur alike.

“Country: Portraits of an American Sound” will be curated by Shannon Perich of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, along with Tim Davis and Michael McCall of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The exhibit promises to showcase legends such as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Merle Haggard.

Also featured will be more contemporary artists such as Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, along with displays of country music albums, posters, instruments, and stage costumes provided by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. There will also be screenings of a full-length documentary exploring the evolution of country music over the last 80 years.

L.A. may not be the hub of country music, but from May 31 to September 28, it will definitely be a mecca. For those who live seemingly a world away, fear not! The exhibit is expected to tour the country following its stint in Los Angeles.

Be sure to check out KaraokeOnVEVO and our Sing-N-Share app (available for both Android and Apple devices) where you can sing thousands of country songs from your favorite artists.