President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had a special guest at the in the East Room White House this evening. Music superstar Carole King was honored and then performed at the White House as part of the “In Performance at the White House” series. Singer-songwriter Carole King was presented with the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
Front row seats of honor were occupied by the president and First Lady, Vice President Joe Biden, Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Mrs. Kathy LaHood and Librarian of Congress James Billington. Also in the audience were Sharon Percy Rockefeller, chief executive of WETA-TV (a public television station in theWashington area) and her husband, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va.
President Obama made some remarks prior to awarding the Gershwin Prize to Carole King. First, President Obama noted the Oklahoma “As we gather tonight to present this award, our thoughts and prayers remain with the wonderful people of Oklahoma. They have suffered mightily this week. And while the road ahead will be long, their country will be with them every single step of the way. That’s who we are and that’s how we treat our family and friends, and our neighbors wherever they are in the country. So we’re going to help them recover. We’re going to help them rebuild for as long as it takes. And eventually, life will go on and new memories will be made. New laughter will come. New songs will be sung.”
President Obama talked about George Gershwin and his music. “George Gershwin, it was said, was a ‘man who lives in music,’ who ‘expresses everything, serious or not, sound or superficial, by means of music, because it is his native language.’ And I can’t think of a better description of tonight’s Gershwin Prize recipient, singer-songwriter Carole King.”
President Obama noted that Carole King, by the age of seventeen “had already written her first number one hit, which you’ve already heard — ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ — with Gerry Goffin.”
He noted that “In 1971 she (Carole King) showed the world that she couldn’t just write hit songs, she could sing them too. Her album — “Tapestry” — struck a chord with a whole new legion of fans, including me. It was the very first solo album by a female artist to reach Diamond status, meaning it sold more than 10 million copies. It was the first album by a female artist to win all the top Grammy awards for record, song, and album of the year, along with the Grammy for best pop vocal performance. And as one of the best-selling albums of all-time, it cemented Carole’s status as one of the most influential singer-songwriters that America has ever seen.”
President Obama then noted her prolific songwriting. “To date, Carole has written more than 400 compositions that have been recorded by over 1,000 artists, resulting in over 100 hits. She’s done everything from doo-wop to pop. She’s played with everyone from Bono to Babyface. She’s been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And tonight, she’s still reaching new heights, becoming the first female artist to win the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.”
President Obama made the favorable comparison to George and Ira Gershwin.”Like the Gershwins, it’s not just that Carole lives the music. It’s that music lives in her.”
President Obama presented the award to Carole King as he did when the Library of Congress honored Stevie Wonder (2009), Sir Paul McCartney (2010), and the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David (2012). The program included performances by Carole King, as well as Gloria Estefan, Billy Joel, Jesse McCartney, Emeli Sandé, James Taylor and Trisha Yearwood.
Also performing were Gloria Estefan, Trisha Yearwood and young Brit singer Emeli Sandé- some say she’s the most exciting emerging voice the White House has hosted in many years – teamed first for “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.”
Friend and longtime collaborator James Taylor mellowed things out with “Up on the Roof,” as Carole King cheered her friend from the front row, mouthing along to the words, conducting the song with a clenched fist.
“Carole King: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize In Performance at the White House” will be broadcast Tuesday, May 28 at 8:00 PM ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings). The program will also be broadcast at a later date via the American Forces Network to American service men and women and civilians at U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world.
This will be the first time the Gershwin Prize honor has been awarded to a woman, as the President noted. The Gershwin Prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.
The White House concert caps off two days of events celebrating the recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The evening before, the Library of Congress hosted an invitation-only concert at their Coolidge Auditorium in honor of Carole King. The all-star tribute included performances by Patti Austin, Colbie Caillat, Michael Feinstein, Siedah Garrett, Louise Goffin, Shelby Lynne, Gian Marco, Arturo Sandoval and a special performance by honoree Carole King.
Carole King was born on Feb. 9, 1942 and is an American songwriter and singer-songwriter. King and her former husband Gerry Goffin wrote more than two dozen chart hits for numerous artists during the 1960s, many of which have become standards. As a singer-songwriter, her “Tapestry” album topped the U.S. album chart for 15 weeks in 1971, and remained on the charts for more than six years, according to Wikipedia .
King has made 25 solo albums, the most successful being “Tapestry.” Her most recent non-compilation album is “Live at the Troubadour,” a collaboration with fried James Taylor, which reached number 4 on the charts in its first week, and has sold over 600,000 copies.
Carole King has won four Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her songwriting. Carole’s album Tapestry held the record for most weeks at #1 by a female artist for more than 20 years until broken by Whitney Houston (for the soundtrack album The Bodyguard movie), which was itself later topped by Adele (for the album 21 in 2012).
John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.