Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Billy Joel is to be honoured with the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He will receive the prize in Washington, D.C. in November.
Joel follows in the footsteps of six previous recipients: Carole King, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney and songwriting partners Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David.
The Gershwin Prize honours individuals for lifetime achievement in popular music. It is named after legendary songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billlington said: “Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order. There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music.”
Billy Joel said: “The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. And the Library’s decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.”
Six-time Grammy Award winner Billy Joel was presented with a Grammy Legend Award in 1990. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
During his 50-year career, he has had 33 Top 40 hits and has sold more than 150 million records worldwide. His Grammy awards include Song of the Year and Album of the Year in 1978 for ‘Just the Way You Are’.
Since releasing his first hit song, ‘Piano Man’, in 1973, Joel has become the sixth best-selling recording artist and the third best-selling solo artist in the United States.
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Songwriters Hall of Fame chairman Jimmy Webb has announced that Elton John and Bernie Taupin will be the 2013 recipients of the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at this year’s awards ceremony in New York on June 13.
John and Taupin have been one of the most prolific and successful songwriting partnerships of all time. Their award-winning relationship has spanned more than four decades and they have collaborated on more than 30 albums since they first met in 1967.
“Some catalogues are more significant than others not only because of their pertinence to the times in which they were written, but because their sheer mass is overpowering,” said Jimmy Webb. “It’s just not that easy to write 40 top 10 records. It’s kind of like swimming the English Channel with your hands tied behind your back.”
He added: “Elton’s readily identifiable melodic piano style has proven to be a perfect accompaniment to Bernie’s razor sharp lyrics about relationships and living on the edge of life both in good and bad times.”
The Johnny Mercer Award is the highest honour bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. It is exclusively reserved for songwriters or songwriting teams who have already been inducted in a prior year, and whose body of work is of such high quality and impact that it upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer.
Past Johnny Mercer Award recipients have included songwriting giants: Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Phil Collins, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Paul Anka, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Billy Joel, Jimmy Webb, Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Paul Simon, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Stephen Sondheim, Cy Coleman, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.
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