Willie Nelson, The Chainsmokers, Queen Latifah & More Join SXSW Online 2021

January 13, 2021 Jordan Roberts

2021 SXSW Keynote Willie Nelson - Photo by Pamela Springsteen; and Featured Speakers The Chainsmokers – Alex Pall and Drew Taggart; and Queen Latifah - Photo by Sophy Holland (CBS)

Announcing legendary musician, philanthropist, and entrepreneur Willie Nelson as Keynote, along with more Featured Speakers across entertainment, culture, and technology for SXSW Online, a premiere digital experience from March 16–20, 2021.

“No individual has had the cultural impact on, or been more synonymous with the creative vibrancy of Austin than Willie Nelson, and we are incredibly honored to have him as a SXSW Online 2021 Keynote,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer. “In addition to dozens of incredible Featured Speakers, today’s announcement also includes more than 200 sessions curated from our global community via PanelPicker, and is a key part of the premium content you can expect from SXSW Online 2021.”

Featured Speakers announced include Samantha Bee, Sir Richard Branson, Nicholas Britell, Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky), The Chainsmokers, Chiquis, Laurieann Gibson, Taraji P. Henson, Barry Jenkins, Matthew McConaughey, Queen Latifah, LL COOL J, and more.

Get to know the latest round of Conference programming below. Plus, explore over 230 PanelPicker® sessions sourced from the SX community and curated by SX staff. Browse the full list of sessions organized by Conference themes, specifically focused on our unique moment in history and a glimpse into what the future could look like.

Register to attend SXSW Online 2021 to access all Conference sessions, Music Festival showcases, Film Festival screenings, world-class networking, and the unexpected discoveries that are always a part of SXSW. For SXSW Online, we’re offering one pass that covers the entire event, allowing attendees to take in programming and connect with others across the many industries that SX serves.

Stay tuned for more big announcements throughout January including Film Festival screenings, Music Festival showcases, and more. SXSW Comedy Festival content will be announced as we get closer to the March event.


Musician, author, actor, entrepreneur, and activist Willie Nelson has earned every conceivable award as a musician and continues to thrive as a relevant and progressive musical and cultural force. In recent years, he has delivered more than a dozen new albums, released a Top 10 New York Times’ bestsellers book, again headlined Farm Aid, an event he co-founded in 1985, been honored by the Library of Congress with their Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, received his 5th degree black belt in Gong Kwon Yu Sul, headlined the annual Luck Reunion food and music festival during SXSW, and launched his cannabis companies Willie’s Reserve and Willie’s Remedy.

Featured Speakers

  • Emmy Award-winning host of TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Samantha Bee
  • Entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson
  • Latin Grammy-winning recording artist (singer/songwriter), businesswoman, author, and television star Chiquis
  • Co-founder and CEO of Relativity Space Tim Ellis
  • Emmy-nominated creative director and choreographer Laurieann Gibson
  • Schwab EVP and Chief Digital Officer Neesha Hathi
  • Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor, writer, and producer Taraji P. Henson in conversation with SELF magazine Editor-in-Chief Carolyn Kylstra
  • Author and co-founder and CEO of Affectiva Dr. Rana el Kaliouby
  • Academy Award-winning actor, author, and Minister of Culture and part-owner for expansion club Austin FC Matthew McConaughey in conversation with Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber
  • International yoga teacher, actress, writer, and entrepreneur Adriene Mishler
  • Actor, filmmaker, author, and Olympic athlete Alexi Pappas
  • Featured Sessions

  • Breaking the Sonic Color Line: A discussion about authenticity of voice in media, defeating racial stereotypes in voice acting, the impact of race in audio ads and how the industry can come together and make real change featuring DJ, actress and entrepreneur MC Lyte; Pandora Group Creative Director Roger Sho Gehrmann; and voice-over and television actress Joan Baker.
  • The Chainsmokers on launching MANTIS VC: Grammy Award-winning and Billboard Chart topping artist/producer duo, The Chainsmokers, are a dominating musical force with a diverse repertoire of songs that have led them to become one of world’s biggest recording artists. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart have expanded The Chainsmokers’ empire into film and television, tequila, philanthropy, and most recently their venture capital firm Mantis. Hear their story on how the duo have evolved their music career into so much more.
  • A Conversation with Icons Queen Latifah and LL COOL J: From the mic to the big screen, award-winning rappers, actors and producers Queen Latifah and LL COOL J have been major forces in the entertainment industry for over three decades. Queen Latifah executive produces and stars as the first female Equalizer, Robyn McCall, in the reimagining of the series Equalizer, and LL COOL J stars as Special Agent Sam Hanna on NCIS: Los Angeles. Join them for a lively, in-depth conversation about their illustrious careers in music, television and movies (in front and behind the cameras), the cultural resonance and timeliness of their series, and much more.
  • From Moonlight to The Underground Railroad: Barry Jenkins & Composer Nicholas Britell: A conversation with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins and with Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning composer Nicholas Britell (Succession), where they will discuss the joy, delicate nuances, challenges and unexpected discoveries from their work together. The pair will talk about their unique creative process in building a singular audiovisual identity with a specific focus on their upcoming Amazon Original limited series, The Underground Railroad, based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name. Jenkins and Britell first collaborated on Moonlight, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. During the making of Moonlight, the duo formed an inimitable rapport that brought them back together again for If Beale Street Could Talk. The Underground Railroad will stream in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide on Amazon Prime Video in 2021.
  • Hi, I’m Dave: Hailed by Rolling Stone as one of the best TV shows of 2020, FXX’s DAVE is based on the life of Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky), and centered on a neurotic man who’s convinced himself that he’s destined to be one of the best rappers of all time. The critically-acclaimed first season explored ambition, mental illness and masculinity in the world of hip-hop. Join co-creator/executive producer/writer/star Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky), co-creator/executive producer Jeff Schaffer, executive producer Saladin Patterson and series star GaTa for DAVE’s first panel at SXSW. Season 1 is available on FX on Hulu; season two will premiere on FXX in 2021.
  • How GenZ Duets the News on TikTok: Hear about tactics publishers are using to build relationships with young audiences on TikTok, and the content that moves audiences to action with The Washington Post video producer Dave Jorgenson; NowThis politics producer Ian McKenna; and content creator Jackie James.
  • Leading Safely + Motivating Empathetically: Learn how the hospitality industry have changed their tactics to adapt to the ever-changing health and wellness regulations and lead, motivate and engage their employees, colleagues and communities; eaturing Blackberry Farm Vice President of Food & Beverage Andy Chabot; Food & Wine editor-in-chief Hunter Lewis; executive chef and Cúrate Bar de Tapas and La Bodega by Cúrate co-owner Katie Button; and award-winning chef and activist Marcus Samuelsson.
  • Making Emotional Connections With Volumetric Video: Hear from three seasoned creatives on the most effective way to make emotional connections through volumetric video with writer, director, and new media artist Illya Szilak; Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Capture Studios creative director Jason Waskey, and producer and Atlas V co-founder Antoine Cayrol.
  • RIP Live Shows? Concerts in the Time of COVID: A conversation about the ways the live/touring industry are trying to stay afloat, what’s working, what isn’t, and what still needs to be done to save the music we love, featuring Driift general manager Adam Shore; Panache Booking and Panache Management founder Michelle Cable; and Paradigm Talent Agency Executive, Wilder Records founder and Home School co-founder Tom Windish.
  • $149 SXSW Online Passes Nearly Sold Out

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    From March 16-20, experience Conference sessions and Keynotes, music showcases, film screenings, world-class networking, online exhibitions, and the unexpected discoveries that are always a part of SXSW, all in a digital setting.

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    2021 SXSW Keynote Willie Nelson – Photo by Pamela Springsteen; and Featured Speakers The Chainsmokers – Alex Pall and Drew Taggart; and Queen Latifah – Photo by Sophy Holland (CBS)

    The post Willie Nelson, The Chainsmokers, Queen Latifah & More Join SXSW Online 2021 appeared first on SXSW.


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