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The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is named in honor of the legendary George and Ira Gershwin. This award recognizes the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture. The prize is given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. The first Gershwin Prize was awarded to Paul Simon in May 2007, the second to Stevie Wonder in February 2009, and the third to Sir Paul McCartney in June 2010.
This will be the first time the Gershwin Prize honor has been awarded to a songwriting team. Like the legendary siblings for whom the Gershwin Prize is named, Bacharach and David are a pianist and lyricist respectively. The GRAMMY- and Academy Award-winning pair have collaborated for more than a half-century, creating such beloved songs as “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” “What the World Needs Now is Love,” “Walk on By” and “Alfie.” David, 90, and Bacharach, 83, first began collaborating in the 1950s at the Famous Paramount Music Co. in New York City. Since their first hit together, “The Story of My Life” in 1957, both David and Bacharach have been nominated and honored with every major award bestowed by the music industry. Today, their songs continue to be recorded by such artists as Diana Krall, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper, and the cast of the television show “Glee.”
Bacharach, born in Missouri and raised in New York, has been for six decades one of the most honored and successful composers of our time. His music continues to set industry records and creative standards. A recipient of three Academy Awards and eight GRAMMY Awards, including the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award and 1997 Trustees Award with collaborator Hal David, Bacharach revolutionized the music of the 1950s and ‘60s. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and is the recipient of other tributes received from top music industry institutions to governments, universities and charitable and philanthropic groups. From helping charitable organizations raise funds, to Broadway, movies and scores of new recordings of his songs each year, Bacharach’s music is always nearby.
David, a native New Yorker, elevates the common pop song to fine art, showing sophistication and maturity in his lyrics. As an Academy Award-winning lyricist with 40 Top Ten songs, David has been honored for his way with words with every major award bestowed by the music industry, including numerous GRAMMY Awards, the NARM Presidential Award, and the B’Nai B’rith Creative Achievement Award. He has been elected to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, has received its coveted Johnny Mercer Award, and is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. David was awarded the prestigious GRAMMY Trustees Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and was also the first non-British person to receive the esteemed Ivor Novello Award from the British Performing Rights Society.