Kris Kristofferson has been making things happen his entire life. Born in Texas and raised in a military family, he was a Golden Gloves boxer who studied creative writing at Pomona College in California. The Phi Beta Kappa graduate earned a Rhodes scholarship to study literature at Oxford, where he boxed, played rugby and continued to write songs.After graduating from Oxford, Kristofferson served in the army as an Airborne Ranger helicopter pilot and achieved the rank of Captain. In 1965, Kristofferson turned down anassignment to teach at West Point and, inspired by songwriters like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, moved to Nashville to pursue his music.When I was in the army, I was one of the few people outside of his personal friends who knew about Willie Nelson, Kristofferson recalls. I listened to a disc jockey whohappened to be a Willie fan. He would play Willies songs and talk about him all the time. By the time I got to Nashville, he was a superhero to me. For guys like me, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson were two gods we worshipped. Then Willie and I got to be best friends. I came from a position of idolizing him to finding out hes the funniest son of a bitch you could be around.After struggling in Music City for several years, Kristofferson achieved remarkable success as a country songwriter at the start of the 1970s. His songs "Me and BobbyMcGee," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "Sunday Morning Coming Down," and "For the Good Times," all chart-topping hits, helped redefine country songwriting. By1987, it was estimated that more than 450 artists had recorded Kristoffersons compositions.His renown as a songwriter triggered Kristoffersons successful career as a performer and that, in turn, brought him to the attention of Hollywood, leading to his flourishing careeras a film actor. Kristofferson has acted in more than 70 films. In 1977 He won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in A Star Is Born. Hes appeared in cult favorites including the Blade trilogy, Lone Star, A Soldiers Daughter Never Cries, Alice Doesnt Live Here Anymore, Blume In Love, Cisco Pike, and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Recent films include Fast Food Nation, Dreamer: Inspired By A True Story, TheJacket, Silver City, Hes Just Not That In To You, and Dolphin Tale.Heralded as an artists artist, the three-time GRAMMY winner has recorded 28 albums, including three with pals Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings as part of the Highwaymen. Kristofferson has spent three decades performing concerts all over the world, in most recent years in a solo acoustic setting, which puts the focus on the songs. Theres an honesty in the sparseness. It feels like direct communication to the listener, he says. I still have more fun when Im with the band, but being alone is freer, somehow. Its like being an old blues guy, just completely stripped away.Kristofferson has reached living legend status, but that hasnt changed or hindered his creativity. His current CD, Feeling Mortal contains eleven gems that explore love, gratitude, aging, and his ever-present theme of freedom. If you took freedom out of the songs, youd have very few Kristofferson songs, he laughs.In addition to many other awards, Kristofferson is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, winner of the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriter Hall ofFame, and was honored with the American Veterans Associations Veteran of the Year Award in 2002. For Kristoffersons 70th birthday in 2006, his friends and admirers gifted him with a tribute CD, The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson. Stars includingWillie Nelson, Russell Crowe, Emmylou Harris, Gretchen Wilson, Rosanne Cash, andBrian McKnight recorded 17 of Kristoffersons compositions for the tribute. In 2007, Kristofferson was honored with the Johnny Cash Visionary Award from Country Music Television and in 2009 BMI lauded Kristofferson with the Icon Award. He received the Frances Preston Music Industry Award from the T.J. Martell Foundation in March, 2012. In 2014, Kristofferson was honored with a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and the PEN Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award.
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