The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is an award given to a composer or performer for their lifetime contributions to popular music. Created in 2007 by the Library of Congress, the prize is named after brothers George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, whose contributions to popular music included songs such as "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You," and "Someone to Watch Over Me," the orchestral pieces Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, and the opera Porgy and Bess. The first recipient of the award was Paul Simon.
The national prize for popular song, eventually named the Gershwin Prize, was created by Peter Kaminsky, Bob Kaminsky, Cappy McGarr, Mark Krantz, and Dalton Delan, subsequent to their creation of the national humor award, the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize. The project was presented to the Librarian, James Billington in 2003. The executive producers then secured a partnership with WETA, PBS, and CPB. It was first awarded by the Librarian in 2007 to recognize "the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture" as part of the Library's mission to recognize and celebrate creativity. The recipient of the Gershwin Prize is said to: "exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins." In selecting the recipient, the Librarian of Congress works with staff of the Library's Music Division as well as the broader music community. On March 1, 2007, Paul Simon was announced as the first recipient of the new award, which joins other awards bestowed by the Library including the Living Legend and Kluge Prize. The Prize was awarded to Simon during a Concert Gala featuring his music at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., on the evening of May 23, 2007. The event was nationally broadcast on PBS on the evening of June 27, 2007. Performers included Yolanda Adams, Marc Anthony, Shawn Colvin, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Jessy Dixon and the Jessy Dixon Singers, Jerry Douglas, Philip Glass, Alison Krauss, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lyle Lovett, Stephen Marley, Dianne Reeves, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, and Buckwheat Zydeco, as well as Simon's former collaborator Art Garfunkel.
On September 3, 2008, the Library of Congress announced that Stevie Wonder would become the second recipient of the honor. President Barack Obama presented Wonder with the Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize at a ceremony at the White House on February 25, 2009. Performers included Wonder as well as India.Arie, Tony Bennett, Wayne Brady, Anita Johnson, Diana Krall, Mary Mary, Martina McBride, Rickey Minor, Paul Simon, Esperanza Spalding and will.i.am.
On November 18, 2009, the Library of Congress announced Sir Paul McCartney as the third recipient of the honor. The ceremony for McCartney was held on June 2, 2010 in the East Room of the White House with President Obama and Mrs. Obama in attendance. Performers included McCartney as well as Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Jonas Brothers, Herbie Hancock, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dave Grohl, Faith Hill, Emmylou Harris, Lang Lang and Jack White, with remarks by Jerry Seinfeld.
On September 27, 2011, the Library of Congress announced Burt Bacharach and Hal David as the fourth recipients of the honor. The presentation ceremony was held May 9, 2012 during a White House tribute concert (recorded for later broadcast on PBS) with the President and Mrs. Obama in attendance. Performers included Dionne Warwick, the singer most associated with the duo's works, Stevie Wonder, Diana Krall, Lyle Lovett, Sheryl Crow, Mike Myers, Arturo Sandoval, and Michael Feinstein, who spoke of Ira Gershwin's admiration of the pair's songs.
On December 13, 2012, Carole King was announced as the recipient of the fifth Gershwin Prize, the first time it was awarded to a woman composer. On Tuesday, May 21, 2013, the Library of Congress hosted an invitation-only concert at Coolidge Auditorium in honor of King. The all-star tribute included performances by Siedah Garrett, Colbie Caillat, Gian Marco, Shelby Lynne, Patti Austin, Arturo Sandoval and King's daughter, Louise Goffin. The following night at the White House, the First Family joined King and star performers including James Taylor, Gloria Estefan, Emeli Sandé, Trisha Yearwood, Jesse McCartney and Billy Joel.
- 2007 - Paul Simon
- 2009 - Stevie Wonder
- 2010 - Paul McCartney
- 2012 - Burt Bacharach and Hal David
- 2013 - Carole King
- 2014 - Billy Joel
- Public Affairs Office (2007-07-02). "Paul Simon To Be Awarded First Annual Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by Library of Congress". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-03-02.
- Public Affairs Office (2007-04-23). "Star-Studded Lineup Confirmed for Library of Congress Concert Honoring Gershwin Prize Recipient Paul Simon". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
- "Wonder To Be Presented With Top U.S. Honour", WENN (reported at the Internet Movie Database), 3 September 2008.
- "Stevie Wonder honoured by Obama", BBC News, 26 February 2009.
- "Sir Paul to receive top US honour", BBC News, 18 November 2009.
- Pareles, Jon."McCartney Is Honored at White House"The New York Times, June 2, 2010
- "2012 Fourth Gershwin Prize Recipient: Burt Bacharach" Library of Congress Website, 27 September 2011.
- "2012 Fourth Gershwin Prize Recipient: Hal David" Library of Congress Website, 27 September 2011.
- "Hal David, Burt Bacharach honored in D.C. with Gershwin Prize". Los Angeles Times. May 9, 2012.
- "President and First Lady to Host Concert Honoring Carole King in the East Room". The White House.gov. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- Desta, Yohana (21 May 2013). "Carole King on Gershwin Prize: 'Do not make me cry'". USA Today. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- Hetrick, Adam (28 May 2013). "'Carole King White House Concert, With Billy Joel and James Taylor, Broadcast on PBS May 28'". Playbill. Retrieved 28 May 2013.