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Arts & Culture

Billy Joel: The Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize

Singer-songwriter Billy Joel, recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, on stage.
Courtesy of Myrna Suarez
Singer-songwriter Billy Joel, recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, on stage.

Airs Friday, January 2, 2015 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

“Billy Joel: The Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize” is a PBS music special honoring singer-songwriter Billy Joel’s receipt of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The program will premiere Friday, January 2, 2015 on PBS stations nationwide.

Billy Joel (center) receives the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress (left) and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (right). Taped November 19, 2014, at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
Courtesy of © Joe Shymanski
Billy Joel (center) receives the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress (left) and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (right). Taped November 19, 2014, at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
Gavin DeGraw in performance.
Courtesy of Shawn Miller
Gavin DeGraw in performance.
Natalie Maines in performance.
Courtesy of Shawn Miller
Natalie Maines in performance.

Taped at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., on November 19, 2014, the music special features Joel, as well as Tony Bennett, Boyz II Men, Michael Feinstein, Gavin DeGraw, Josh Groban, Natalie Maines, John Mellencamp and LeAnn Rimes, with a special performance by Kevin Spacey — as well as dance ensemble performances from Twyla Tharp’s “Movin’ Out.” During the event, Joel was presented the Gershwin Prize by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA23), U.S. Representative Candice Miller (R-MI10), U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA12), U.S. Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS3) and Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress.

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 Gershwin Prize was first awarded to Paul Simon in May 2007, followed by Stevie Wonder in February 2009, Sir Paul McCartney in June 2010, the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David in May 2012, and to Carole King in 2013.

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 crevices of life, mirroring his own goal of writing songs that “meant something during the time in which I lived . . . and transcended that time.”

His songs “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” “The Entertainer,” “Piano Man,” “Big Shot,” “New York State of Mind,” “You May Be Right,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Allentown,” “Uptown Girl” and “The Downeaster ‘Alexa’” are among many classics in a rich and deep catalog of music that have acted as personal and cultural touchstones for millions of people.

Billy Joel is on Facebook, Google +, and you can follow @billyjoel on Twitter.

Billy Joel: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize Preview

"“Billy Joel: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize” is a PBS music special honoring singer-songwriter Billy Joel’s receipt of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The evening will include performances by Joel

"Josh Groban Performs "She's Always A Woman To Me"

"Josh Groban performs "She's Always A Woman To Me" at the Billy Joel: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize."

"Natalie Maines Performs "She's Got A Way"

"Natalie Maines Performs "She's Got A Way" at the Billy Joel: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize."

"Tony Bennett Performs "New York State of Mind"

"Tony Bennett Performs "New York State of Mind" at the Billy Joel: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize."

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