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May 24, 2010

Library of Congress Announces Gershwin Prize for Popular Song To Sir Paul McCartney

PBS to Broadcast All-Star White House Concert July 28

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced today that the third Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will be presented to Sir Paul McCartney at a special concert in the East Room of the White House on June 2, 2010.

The program, to be taped by WETA Washington, D.C. (external link) as part of the "In Performance at the White House" series, will air on PBS stations nationwide on Wednesday, July 28, 2010, at 8 p.m. EDT (check local listings) as "Paul McCartney: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House."

The concert will feature a tribute by major stars, many of whom will perform the songs that propelled McCartney to legendary status in music and humanitarianism around the world. The lineup of performers includes Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Jonas Brothers, Dave Grohl, Jack White, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Herbie Hancock, Corinne Bailey Rae, Lang Lang and remarks by Jerry Seinfeld.

The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song was created by the Library of Congress to honor artists whose creative output transcends distinctions between musical styles and idioms, bringing diverse listeners together, and fostering mutual understanding and appreciation.

"Sir Paul has been writing and performing for more than five decades—as a member of iconic groups and as a solo artist—in genres ranging from rock 'n' roll to classical compositions," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who selected Sir Paul McCartney for the honor in November 2009. "But he also has made an impact far beyond music through his humanitarianism and activism around the world, which are emblematic of the spirit of the Gershwin Prize."

The prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. Paul Simon in 2007 received the first Gershwin Prize, while Stevie Wonder in 2009 received the second.

Details about McCartney’s illustrious career can be found here.

"In Performance at the White House" is a music series distributed for national television broadcast by PBS and produced since its inception in 1978 by WETA Washington, D.C. WETA, the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, created the series to showcase the rich fabric of American culture in the setting of the nation’s most famous home. Throughout the years, the series has embraced virtually every genre of American performance from pop, country, gospel, jazz, and blues to theatre and dance.

The creators and executive producers of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song are Peter and Bob Kaminsky, Mark Krantz, Cappy McGarr and Dalton Delan; the Kaminskys, Krantz and McGarr are also the creators and executive producers of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, now in its 13th year. Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson are executive producers for WETA Washington, D.C.

In making the selection for the prize, the Librarian of Congress turned for advice to leading members of the music and entertainment communities. The advisory committee consisted of Rickey Minor, Carol Bayer Sager, Paul Simon, Jimmy Webb, and Paul Williams. In previous years the Librarian has consulted with advisers from a diverse cross section of popular culture including Lorne Michaels, Allen Toussaint and Phil Ramone.

Given the Library’s long association with the Gershwin family and the profound effect the brothers had in the evolution of American music, it is fitting that the Library memorialize this relationship in the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

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 contains a wealth of materials that provide insight into their careers and personalities, including manuscripts and printed music, photographs, correspondence, business papers, scrapbooks and iconography. The Gershwin Room—a permanent tribute to the Gershwins and their work—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 and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at

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PR 10-119
ISSN 0731-3527

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