Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has announced that Billy Joel will be this year’s recipient of the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
The Prize honors an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding.
The selection is made by the Librarian of Congress along with a board that consists of scholars, producers, performers, music critics, songwriters and subject specialists.
Previous recipients include Carole King, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach, Paul Simon, and Hal David.
Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order,” Mr. Billington said in a statement. “There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds 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.” He continued, “Importantly, as with any good storyteller, the recognition experienced in a Billy Joel song is not simply because these are songs we have heard so many times, but because we see something of ourselves in them.”