The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song celebrates the work of an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding. The styles in which these works are composed reflect myriad contemporary traditions like rock, jazz, country, pop, blues, folk, and gospel. The recipient-whether composer, singer/songwriter, or interpreter-is recognized for entertaining and informing audiences, for drawing upon the acknowledged foundations of popular song, and for inspiring new generations of performers on their own professional journeys.
The selection is made by the Librarian of Congress in consultation with a board that is both credible and broad enough in scope to represent the full spectrum of popular song. Board members may include but need not be limited to scholars, producers, performers, music critics, songwriters, and subject specialists within and outside the Library of Congress.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announces the 4th Gershwin Prize Recipients, Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Burt Bacharach, Fourth Gershwin Prize Recipient
Six decades into one of songwriting’s most successful and honored careers – marked by 48 Top 10 hits, nine #1 songs, more than 500 compositions and a landmark 50+-year run on the charts, Burt Bacharach’s music continues to set industry records and creative standards.
Hal David, Fourth Gershwin Prize Recipient
Small wonder that Hal David has been honored for his way with words with every major award bestowed by the music industry, including 40 top 10 songs, numerous Grammys, the NARM Presidential Award, and the B'Nai B'rith Creative Achievement Award. He has also been elected to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and has been presented with their coveted Johnny Mercer Award, and is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Paul McCartney, Third Gershwin Prize Recipient
Paul McCartney was born in Liverpool, England, on June 18, 1942. He was raised in the city and educated at the Liverpool Institute. Since writing his first song at the age of 14, Paul McCartney has dreamed and dared to be different. In the ’60s, as the writer and co-author of The Beatles’ greatest songs, he changed the world of music.
Stevie Wonder, Second Gershwin Prize Recipient
Born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950, Stevie Wonder became blind shortly after birth. He learned to play the harmonica, piano and drums by age 9. By the time he was 10, his singing and other musical skills were known throughout his neighborhood, and when the family moved to Detroit, impressed adults made his talents known to the owners of Motown Records, who gave him a recording contract when he was age 12.
Paul Simon, First Gershwin Prize Recipient
During his distinguished career Paul Simon has been the recipient of many honors and awards including 12 Grammy Awards, three of which ("Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Graceland") were albums of the year. In 2003 he was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel.