Gershwin Prize

The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song celebrates the work of an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding. The styles in which these works are composed reflect myriad contemporary traditions like rock, jazz, country, pop, blues, folk, and gospel. The recipient-whether composer, singer/songwriter, or interpreter-is recognized for entertaining and informing audiences, for drawing upon the acknowledged foundations of popular song, and for inspiring new generations of performers on their own professional journeys.

The selection is made by the Librarian of Congress in consultation with a board that is both credible and broad enough in scope to represent the full spectrum of popular song. Board members may include but need not be limited to scholars, producers, performers, music critics, songwriters, and subject specialists within and outside the Library of Congress.

  • Biography
    Emilio and Gloria Estefan 2019 Gershwin Prize Honorees The Estefans symbolize the rich cultural diversity of the American musical experience. They are musical auteurs, creating a unique sound of Latin rhythms that transcends cultural boundaries, parlaying their creative genius into entrepreneurship and community activism, and propelling the careers of many of today’s Latino artists to stardom. During their more […]
  • Biography
    Tony Bennett 2017 Gershwin Prize Honoree Tony Bennett is not just an artist for the ages, but an artist for all ages. His interpretations and re-interpretations have introduced new generations to the Great American Songbook. He is one of a handful of artists to have new albums charting in seven consecutive decades, beginning in the 1950s through […]
  • Biography
    Smokey Robinson 2016 Gershwin Prize Honoree A rhythm and blues icon whose career has spanned more than 50 years, Robinson is considered the poet laureate of soul. His velvet falsetto and incomparable mastery of lyrical verse have created a tapestry of hits that have transcended generations and become a mainstay in American pop music. As a producer, […]
  • Biography
    Willie Nelson 2015 Gershwin Prize Honoree With a career that spans six decades, Nelson’s music pushes genre boundaries and his lyrics give voice to America’s heartland. He put his imprint forever on country music and introduced it to new audiences by expanding music’s avenues in the ‘70s to create “outlaw country.” He has continually broadened his musical […]
  • Biography
    Billy Joel 2014 Gershwin Prize Honoree Billy Joel ranks as one of the most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in the world. His piano-fueled narratives take listeners into the relatable and deeply personal moments of life, mirroring his own goal of writing songs that “meant something during the time in which I lived … and transcended […]
  • Biography
    Carole King 2013 Gershwin Prize Honoree Pop music as we know it would be far different without the many lasting contributions of Carole King, who is more than a half century into her singular career as a songwriter, performer, and author. Indeed, this universally renowned and beloved figure has rarely been more active than during the last […]
  • Biography
    Hal David 2012 Gershwin Prize Honoree “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head,” “This Guy’s in Love With You,” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” are just three of the hits in a string of standards written by Academy Award-winning lyricist Hal David. “Raindrops,” which was in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, garnered an […]
  • Biography
    Burt Bacharach 2012 Gershwin Prize Honoree Six decades into one of songwriting’s most successful and honored careers – marked by 48 Top 10 hits, nine #1 songs, more than 500 compositions and a landmark 50+-year run on the charts, Burt Bacharach’s music continues to set industry records and creative standards. His Grammy-award winning musical, PROMISES, PROMISES, returned […]
  • Biography
    Paul McCartney 2010 Gershwin Prize Honoree Paul McCartney was born in Liverpool, England, on June 18, 1942. He was raised in the city and educated at the Liverpool Institute. Since writing his first song at the age of 14, Paul McCartney has dreamed and dared to be different. In the ’60s, as the writer and co-author of […]
  • Biography
    Stevie Wonder 2009 Gershwin Prize Honoree Born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950, Stevie Wonder became blind shortly after birth. He learned to play the harmonica, piano and drums by age 9. By the time he was 10, his singing and other musical skills were known throughout his neighborhood, and when the family moved to Detroit, impressed adults […]
  • Biography
    Paul Simon 2007 Gershwin Prize Honoree During his distinguished career Paul Simon has been the recipient of many honors and awards including 12 Grammy Awards, three of which (“Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Still Crazy After All These Years” and “Graceland”) were albums of the year. In 2003 he was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his […]