Billy Joel to receive Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Billy Joel performs at Madison Square Garden on Billy Joel performs at Madison Square Garden on Friday, May 9, 2014. Photo Credit: Agaton Strom

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Billy Joel will be honored this November with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, bestowed annually to "an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding."

"Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order," James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said in a statement Tuesday announcing the award. "There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again."

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In a statement, Joel, 65, said: "The great composer George Gershwin has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. And the Library's decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me."

Coincidentally, iconic composer Gershwin -- born in Brooklyn, part of geographic Long Island -- was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame's first class in 2006, the same year as the Bronx-born, Hicksville-raised Joel.

Previous Gershwin recipients include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, the songwriting duo of Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, and Carole King.

Last year, Joel was among those to receive the 36th Annual Kennedy Center Honors. He has also been awarded the ASCAP Founders Award, the BMI Career Achievement Award and the Billboard Century Award, as well as four honorary doctorates.

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