Austin festival announces 2021 speakers

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Willie Nelson: South by Southwest keynote speaker. Rolls right off the tongue. And somehow, it’s never happened before now.

The legendary Texas musician and cultural icon will deliver the keynote for this year’s edition of the Austin’s marquee festival and conference, event organizers revealed Wednesday, as SXSW navigates a pandemic-era shift to an online format. In the same announcement, SXSW also revealed dozens of big-name featured speakers, ranging from Oscar winnerMatthew McConaughey to entrepreneur Richard Branson to music-and-film stars LL Cool J and Queen Latifah.

Rebranded this year as SXSW Online, the March 16-20 event will offer streamed versions of its hallmark events, including conference sessions, music showcases and film screenings. More details are expected in the coming weeks. SXSW in 2020 was among the first major festival to cancel and marked the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating effect the live entertainment scene.

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