Press contact: Gayle Osterberg (202) 707-0020; Sheryl Cannady (202) 707-6456
Information on the White House Concert (external link)

May 8, 2012

Library of Congress Honors Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Recipients of the 2012 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

PBS to Broadcast All-Star White House Concert May 21

The Library of Congress today kicks off a series of events honoring Grammy- and Academy-Award-winning songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David, recipients of the 2012 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive collection resides in the Library of Congress.

Events include meetings with members of Congress and an all-star tribute concert tonight at the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium. On Wednesday, Bacharach and David will be feted with a second tribute concert at the White House, where President Barack Obama will present the prize.

The White House program, to be taped by WETA Washington, D.C. as part of the "In Performance at the White House" series, will premiere on PBS stations nationwide on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 9 p.m. EDT (check local listings) as "Burt Bacharach & Hal David: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House."

The concerts will feature performances by major stars including Sheryl Crow, Michael Feinstein, Diana Krall, Mike Myers, Lyle Lovett, Rumer, Sheléa, Arturo Sandoval and Stevie Wonder. Dionne Warwick will also perform at the Library concert.

The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honors artists whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin, by bridging musical styles, bringing diverse listeners together, and fostering their mutual respect and appreciation. Previous recipients are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.

In making the selection for the prize, the Librarian of Congress turned for advice to leading members of the music and entertainment communities. The 2012 award advisory committee consisted of Elvis Costello, Bobette Dudley, Paul McCartney, Rickey Minor, Paul Simon, Lee Ann Womack and Steve Wonder.

David, 90, a lyricist, and Bacharach, 83, who wrote the music, first began collaborating in the 1950s at the Famous Paramount Music Co. in New York's storied Brill Building. Today, their songs continue to be recorded by such artists as Diana Krall, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper and the cast of the television show "Glee."

Their extensive catalogs can be tracked through their registrations with the U.S. Copyright Office, which is a part of the Library of Congress. The first Bacharach/David song recorded in the Copyright Office is "Peggy's in the Pantry," dated May 9, 1956.

Among their first big sellers were "The Story of My Life," which became a hit for Marty Robbins, and "Magic Moments," performed by Perry Como.

Between 1962 and 1972, their songs were almost continuously listed on Billboard Magazine's singles chart and they were almost as well-known as the singers they wrote for -- who included Dionne Warwick, B.J. Thomas, Dusty Springfield, The Carpenters, Tom Jones, Jackie DeShannon, Gene Pitney and Herb Alpert. Their work in that period included "Only Love Can Break a Heart," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Make It Easy On Yourself," "Close to You," "A House is Not a Home," "There's Always Something There to Remind Me," "One Less Bell to Answer," and "This Guy's in Love With You," among many other songs. Movie-related songs they wrote together include "Alfie," "What's New Pussycat?," "The Look of Love," "After the Fox," and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." Scores of films have incorporated their songs, including "Forrest Gump," "Catch Me If You Can" and "The First Wives' Club."

Both Bacharach and David have collaborated with other songwriters, both prior to their Brill Building days and after their main collaboration had a hiatus during the mid-1970s. They reunited in the early 1990s with Dionne Warwick, offering a song titled "Sunny Weather Lover" for her "Friends Can Be Lovers" album. They also produced a new song, "You've Got It All Wrong," for the revival of a musical they co-wrote in the late 1960s, "Promises, Promises."

Bacharach’s work has won three Academy Awards and eight Grammy Awards, including the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award and the 1997 Trustees Award, both of which he shares with David. David has won several Grammy Awards; he also has received the Presidential Award from the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) and the B'Nai B'rith Creative Achievement Award. As a recipient of the Ivor Novello Award, he became the first American to achieve that honor. In 1996 he and Burt Bacharach received the coveted Johnny Mercer Award from the national Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2011, the Hall also presented David with its Visionary Leadership Award,

"In Performance at the White House" is a music series distributed for national television broadcast by PBS and produced since its inception in 1978 by WETA Washington, D.C. WETA, the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, created the series to showcase the rich fabric of American culture in the setting of the nation’s most famous home. Throughout the years, the series has embraced virtually every genre of American performance from pop, country, gospel, jazz, and blues to theatre and dance.

The Library of Congress is home to the George and Ira Gershwin Collection, the world’s preeminent resource for the documentary legacy of the Gershwin brothers. It contains a wealth of materials that provide insight into their careers and personalities, including manuscripts and printed music, photographs, correspondence, business papers, scrapbooks and iconography. The Gershwin Room – a permanent tribute to the Gershwins and their work – features George’s piano and desk, Ira’s typing table and typewriter, self-portraits of both brothers and a selection of musical manuscripts from Gershwin stage and screen shows such as "Lady Be Good," "Funny Face," "Girl Crazy" and "Of Thee I Sing." Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through www.loc.gov. For more information on the Gershwin Prize, visit www.loc.gov/about/awardshonors/gershwin/.

# # #

PR 12-093
05/08/12
ISSN 0731-3527

Back to top