Not bad for a kid from Long Island. Billy Joel will be the next recipient of the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The Library of Congress made the announcement Tuesday morning.
The Gershwin Prize is awarded to a musician “whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin,” the pianist/composer and lyricist brothers who together wrote some of pop music’s most enduring standards.
The announcement of Joel’s honor calls him “one of the most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in the world” and “a storyteller of the highest order.” Joel himself adds, “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."
Billy Joel is only the seventh person to receive the Gershwin Prize since Paul Simon received the first one, in 2007. The other recipients include Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, and Carole King, who received the prize last year.
Joel, who turned 65 last May, already has enough lifetime honors to need a mantle in every room to display them all, including membership in the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Halls of Fame, an armload of honorary doctorates, and half-a-dozen Grammy awards. In 2013, he received the Kennedy Center Honors along with fellow musicians Carlos Santana and Herbie Hancock.
Joel will receive the honor in Washington, D.C. in November.
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