The official word: Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced that Carole King is the 2013 recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
The iconic singer-songwriter, known for such beloved hits as “You’ve Got a Friend,” “So Far Away,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “I Feel the Earth Move,” will receive the prize in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2013. She will be feted with a series of events, including an honoree’s luncheon and musical performance in the Library of Congress’s historic Coolidge Auditorium. The prize honors the lifetime achievement of artists whose work exemplifies the standard of excellence associated with towering songwriters George and Ira Gershwin. King joins prior recipients Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney and songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David in receiving the honor.
“Carole King has been one of the most influential songwriters of our time,” Billington said. “For more than five decades, she has written for and been recorded by many different types of artists for a wide range of audiences, communicating with beauty and dignity the universal human emotions of love, joy, pain and loss. Her body of work reflects the spirit of the Gershwin Prize with its originality, longevity and diversity of appeal.”
King said, “I was so pleased when the venerable Library of Congress began honoring writers of popular songs with the Gershwin Prize. I’m proud to be the fifth such honoree and the first woman among such distinguished company. I look forward to performing in the nation’s capital.”
King’s breakout 1971 smash album “Tapestry” remains one of the best-selling records of all time. It is the first female solo album to reach Diamond status, surpassing 10 million copies sold, as certified by the Recording Industry Association of America’s Gold and Platinum Program, a milestone achieved by only 11 other female solo artists in history. “Tapestry” set a record for a female artist by staying at No. 1 on the Billboard chart for 15 weeks. The album’s success established King as an influential force in the industry and she built a legacy of deeply personal communication through song that endures today. The Library named “Tapestry” to the National Recording Registry in 2004. King was the first woman to win four GRAMMY™ Awards in a single year (Best Album, Best Song, Best Record and Best Vocal Performance in 1972). Her 25 solo albums have garnered a total of six Gold awards, two Platinum awards, and one Diamond award. To date, more than 400 of her compositions during a five-decade career have been recorded by more than 1,000 artists and resulted in 100 hit singles.
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song was created to honor artists whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin, by bridging musical styles, bringing diverse listeners together, and fostering their mutual respect and appreciation.
In making the selection for the prize, the Librarian of Congress consulted leading members of the music and entertainment communities, as well as curators from the Library’s Music Division, American Folklife Center and Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.
The Library of Congress is home to the George and Ira Gershwin Collection, the world’s preeminent resource for the documentary legacy of the Gershwin brothers. It includes a wealth of manuscripts, printed music, photographs, correspondence, business papers, scrapbooks and iconography. The Library’s Gershwin Room is a permanent tribute to the Gershwins and their work. It features George’s piano and desk, Ira’s typing table and typewriter, self-portraits of both brothers and a selection of musical manuscripts from Gershwin stage and screen shows such as “Lady Be Good,” “Funny Face,” “Girl Crazy” and “Of Thee I Sing.” Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through www.loc.gov. For more information on the Gershwin Prize, visit www.loc.gov/about/awardshonors/gershwin/.