2020 Gershwin Prize Winner
“Garth Brooks’ appeal as a performer, songwriter and humanitarian has brought many new fans into the world of country music,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “During his career, Brooks has set countless records, earned numerous awards and elevated country music into a national anthem of the American people.”
Brooks is one of the major changemakers in the history of country music. His music weaves the beauty of poetry, the universality of the human experience and the inclusiveness of other musical genres, making him one of the most influential performers in country music today. He has combined the sound of traditional country music with the performance style of arena rock legends of the 1970s, creating a unique artistic vision.
Brooks’ first number one single, “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” set the stage for him as a songwriter and showed his knack for expressing very personal feelings that touch on universal truths. The songs that he has written, as well as those he has chosen to record, have often moved beyond the traditional subject matter for country music, such as “We Shall Be Free,” which won a GLADD Media Award in 1993 for addressing homophobia, homelessness and racism.
He has built a loyal fan base, not only through his music, but also his charity work, including his foundation, “Teammates for Kids.” He received the inaugural George H. W. Bush Points of Light Award for Caring and Compassion to celebrate his humanitarian efforts.
Bestowed in recognition of the legendary songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin, the Gershwin Prize recognizes a living musical artist’s lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of entertainment, information, inspiration and cultural understanding. Previous recipients are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett and Emilio and Gloria Estefan.
“An award is only as good as the names on it,” said Brooks. “First off, for any musician, the name Gershwin says it all. Add to Ira’s and George’s names the names of the past recipients, and you have an award of the highest honor. I am truly humbled.”
Brooks will receive the prize at an all-star tribute concert in Washington, D.C., in March 2020. The concert will air on PBS stations nationwide in spring 2020 (a broadcast date will be confirmed at a later time). The program also will be broadcast via the American Forces Network to U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world.
“Garth Brooks: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” is a co-production of WETA Washington, D.C.; Bounce, a division of Concord Music Group; and the Library of Congress. Major funding for the broadcast is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers. Additional funding is provided by The Ira and Leonore Gershwin Fund and The Leonore S. Gershwin Trust for the benefit of the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board, Michael Strunsky, Trustee; AARP, Buffy Cafritz and Marjorie Fisher Furman. Air transportation is provided by United Airlines.
About Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks has received every accolade the recording industry can bestow on an artist, including several Grammy wins and nominations. He has been named the CMA Entertainer of the Year six times, a first for any performer. He is also the first artist in history to receive seven Diamond Awards for albums certified by the RIAA at more than 10 million album sales each. He remains the No. 1-selling solo artist in U.S. history, certified by the RIAA with more than 148 million album sales. Brooks has been inducted into the International Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame and, most recently, the Musicians Hall of Fame. His tour with Trisha Yearwood sold more than 6.3 million tickets, making it the biggest North American tour in history and the biggest American tour in the world.