Willie Nelson & Family Perform ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’ and ‘I’ll Fly Away’ in First Concert Since Sister Bobbie’s Death

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Just days after Bobbie Nelson passed away at the age of 91, Willie Nelson and family took to the stage to perform Will the Circle Be Unbroken and I’ll Fly Away during the group’s recent performance.  

During the show, which was the first performance in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Willie Nelson and Family closed out the Luck Reunion 2022 event by performing the Gospel classics. 

As previously reported, Bobbie Nelson was an original of Willie Nelson’s Family Band. In a statement by the Nelson Family, Bobbie’s piano playing is said to be traditional-yet-graceful. It was also a key component of Willie’s live shows. 

“Her elegance, grace, beauty, and talent made this world a better place,” Willie Nelson and family declared in the statement. “She was the first member of Willie’s band, as pianist and singer. Our hearts are broken and she will be deeply missed. But we are so lucky to have had her in our lives.”

The sister of Willie Nelson notably passed away at the age of 91 peacefully and surrounded by family. She was in Austin, Texas at the time.

Willie Nelson Previously Opened Up About Working Alongside His Sister in 2020 Book 

While promoting his book, Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band, in November 2020, Willie Nelson and his sister spoke with TODAY’s Harry Smith about teaming up for the family band. 

“My little sister was always on the piano doing great music,” Willie stated. “I would sit there on a piano stool beside her. And try to figure out what the hell she was doing.”

As his sister praised her brother for having incredible talent, Willie declared, “Sister Bobbie is 10 times a better musician than I am. I’m a little better con man, I think.”

Bobbie further explained that Willie has always supported her. During both the good times and bad. These bad times included a few failed marriages and the deaths of two of her sons. “He was that guy,” Bobbie shared. “He was always that guy. And he knew that I had had a rough deal. Ad he was there for me.”

Also speaking about playing in her brother’s band, Bobbie stated, “It was wonderful. I loved it very much. It gave me an opening into today’s world.”

Willie’s family band was formed in 1973. The original lineup included Bobbie on the piano; Paul English as the drummer; harmonicist was Mickey Raphael; bassist was Bee Spears; and guitarist was Jody Payne. In 2017, Bobbie released her only solo album, Audiobiography. She also said that being a musician was a wonderful way of life. “If you go to the piano and the guitar and play music, that’s what I want to do …It doesn’t get any better than that.”