The Piano Man is about to go down in history as the sixth Gershwin Prize Honoree.
Billy Joel will receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song this November at a ceremony in Washington. The lifetime achievement award honors living songwriters whose work exemplifies “the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin” according to the library’s description. Past Gershwin prize winners include Carole King, Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon.
“The great composer George Gershwin has been a personal inspiration for me throughout my career,” said Joel in a statement. “And the Library’s decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.”
“Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order,” said James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress in a statement. “There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between listener and the world he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again.”
Joel has won several Grammy Awards in the past including for song of the year and album of the year for “Just the Way You Are” in 1978 and album of the year for “52nd Street” in 1979. He also recently became Madison Square Garden’s first “entertainment franchise,” joining the Knicks, Rangers and the Liberty. The deal, announced last December, states he would perform a show a month as long as demand is there.
The musician now joins other music legends with this honor from the Library of Congress, and he truly is “The Entertainer.”
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