WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Library of Congress feted Billy Joel on Wednesday, presenting the American pop music icon with its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song at a gala concert in the US capital.
Tony Bennett, Boyz II Men, John Mellencamp and LeAnn Rimes were among the recording artists lined up to perform in honor of the 65-year-old singer-songwriter, whose 33 Top 40 hits include “Piano Man,” “Big Shot,” “My Life,” “Just the Way You Are” and “It s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”
Created in 2007, the Gershwin Prize honors artists “who have created a lifetime of remarkable works that can be recognized and added to America s national cultural patrimony,” said Library of Congress chief James Billington.
“Billy Joel is a true example of this vision,” he added.
Wednesday s tribute came just two days after Joel was honored in New York by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and almost a year after his induction into the Kennedy Center Honors, the nation s highest laurel for the performing arts.
“They keep giving me all these awards, and I m thinking, Are you trying to tell me something I don t know? I mean, I m 65 – I m supposed to be irrelevant,” joked the six-time Grammy winner in the USA Today newspaper.
Since January, Joel has been performing a concert a month at New York s 18,200-seat Madison Square Garden, for which tickets are sold out through April next year.