Tony Bennett, John Mellencamp, Natalie Maines and Kevin Spacey will pay tribute to Billy Joel as he receives the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
Also set for the event at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday are Boyz II Men, Gavin DeGraw, Josh Groban and LeAnn Rimes, as well as Twyla Tharp, who will introduce a dance performance from her Tony-winning collaboration with Joel, the Broadway musical “Movin’ Out.”
The tribute concert, which will also include a performance from Joel, will air on PBS stations nationally at 9 p.m. Jan. 2.
“Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement. “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. Importantly, as with any good storyteller, the recognition experienced in a Billy Joel song is not simply because these are songs we have heard so many times, but because we see something of ourselves in them.”
Joel said he was thrilled with the honor. “The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career,” the Hicksville native said in a statement. “And the Library’s decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.”
Previous recipients include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and Carole King.
Next week will be honor-filled for Joel, who is also set to receive ASCAP’s Centennial Award on Monday, alongside Wonder, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks and Steven Sondheim.