WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Burt Bacharach & Hal David: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House” is a PBS music special in the East Room of the White House. President and Mrs. Obama will host the concert event on May 9 in honor of songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s receipt of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The evening will include performances by Sheryl Crow, Michael Feinstein, Diana Krall, Lyle Lovett, Mike Myers, Rumer, Arturo Sandoval, Sheléa and Stevie Wonder. (Program subject to change.) President Obama will present the Gershwin Prize for Bacharach and David during the event. The sixty-minute television special is part of the Emmy Award-nominated PBS “In Performance at the White House” series — made possible by major grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS. The program will premiere Monday, May 21 at 9 p.m. 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.
“WETA is proud to bring this concert to the American people in collaboration with the White House and the Library of Congress,” noted Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA. “This event marks the forty-ninth production of the WETA ‘In Performance at the White House’ series and it is our continuing honor to share these special musical events with the wide public television viewing audience.”
“The music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David became part of the soundtrack of our lives and has inspired the work of a new generation of songwriters and musicians,” said Paula A. Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “This broadcast reflects PBS’s commitment to bringing the very best of the performing arts to the largest stage, ensuring that every American has access to this great work, while documenting the contributions of extraordinary talent who continue to influence music today.”
“Since the inception of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, PBS has brought this celebration of creativity directly and more broadly to the American people,” commented Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. “The success of the inspired genius of Burt Bacharach and Hal David has without question produced one of the richest and most recognizable multi-generational playlists known to the world. We’re pleased that people everywhere will be able to join in the recognition of these great artists.”
“Public media informs, educates, inspires and entertains,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB, a project funder. “We are proud to support the ‘In Performance at the White House’ series and celebrate the contributions of Burt Bacharach and Hal David to our country’s musical heritage.”
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is named in honor of the legendary George and Ira Gershwin. This award recognizes the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture. The prize is given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. The first Gershwin Prize was awarded to Paul Simon in May 2007, the second to Stevie Wonder in February 2009, and the third to Sir Paul McCartney in June 2010.
This will be the first time the Gershwin Prize honor has been awarded to a songwriting team. Like the legendary siblings for whom the Gershwin Prize is named, Bacharach and David are a pianist and lyricist respectively. The GRAMMY- and Academy Award-winning pair have collaborated for more than a half-century, creating such beloved songs as “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” “What the World Needs Now is Love,” “Walk on By” and “Alfie.” David, 90, and Bacharach, 83, first began collaborating in the 1950s at the Famous Paramount Music Co. in New York City. Since their first hit together, “The Story of My Life” in 1957, both David and Bacharach have been nominated and honored with every major award bestowed by the music industry. 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.”
Bacharach, born in Missouri and raised in New York, has been for six decades one of the most honored and successful composers of our time. His music continues to set industry records and creative standards. A recipient of three Academy Awards and eight GRAMMY Awards, including the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award and 1997 Trustees Award with collaborator Hal David, Bacharach revolutionized the music of the 1950s and ‘60s. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and is the recipient of other tributes received from top music industry institutions to governments, universities and charitable and philanthropic groups. From helping charitable organizations raise funds, to Broadway, movies and scores of new recordings of his songs each year, Bacharach’s music is always nearby.
David, a native New Yorker, elevates the common pop song to fine art, showing sophistication and maturity in his lyrics. As an Academy Award-winning lyricist with 40 Top Ten songs, David has been honored for his way with words with every major award bestowed by the music industry, including numerous GRAMMY Awards, the NARM Presidential Award, and the B’Nai B’rith Creative Achievement Award. He has been elected to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, has received its coveted Johnny Mercer Award, and is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. David was awarded the prestigious GRAMMY Trustees Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and was also the first non-British person to receive the esteemed Ivor Novello Award from the British Performing Rights Society.
“Burt Bacharach & Hal David: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House” will be the ninth “In Performance at the White House” program during President Barack Obama’s administration. Spanning from February 2009 to the most recent broadcast in February 2012, these latest “In Performance at the White House” events have honored the musical genius of Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney; celebrated Hispanic musical heritage during Hispanic Heritage Month; marked Black History Month with events featuring the music from the Civil Rights Movement, Motown, and the Blues; explored the rich history of the uniquely American musical form of Country music; and spotlighted Broadway and the exceptional spirit of the American musical. The star-studded line-ups have included Marc Anthony, Tony Bennett, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Jamie Foxx, José Feliciano, Dave Grohl, Herbie Hancock, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Mick Jagger, Alsion Krauss, B.B. King, Nathan Lane, John Legend, Eva Longoria, Lyle Lovett, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, Smokey Robinson, Seal, Jerry Seinfeld, Esperanza Spalding, Elaine Stritch, James Taylor, and Jack White.
“In Performance at the White House” has been produced by WETA since 1978 and spans every administration since that of President Carter. The series began with an East Room recital by the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz. Since then, “In Performance at the White House” has embraced virtually every genre of American performance: pop, country, gospel, jazz, latin, blues, theatre and dance among them. The series was created to showcase the rich fabric of American culture in the setting of the nation’s most famous home. Past programs have showcased such talent as cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, dancer/choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, popular music singers Linda Ronstadt and Alison Krauss, jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, the United States Marine Band, soul and jazz singers Natalie Cole and Aretha Franklin, leading Broadway performers, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
“Burt Bacharach & Hal David: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House” is a production of WETA Washington, D.C., the Library of Congress, Cappy Productions, Mark Krantz Productions and CoMedia. The “In Performance at the White House” series was created by WETA Washington, D.C. The creators of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song are Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz, Cappy McGarr, Dalton Delan, and Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. The executive producers of “Burt Bacharach & Hal David: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House” are Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz and Cappy McGarr; WETA executive producers are Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson. The program producers are Eileen Bernstein and Allen Kelman. The program director is Linda Mendoza. The music producer is Phil Ramone. The music director is Robert Mounsey. The series producer is Jackson Frost. Corporate funding for the program is provided by Sprint Nextel Corporation and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Foundation support is provided by the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, The Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Philanthropic Fund and The Annenberg Foundation. Individual support is from Cari and Michael J. Sacks. Major funding is also provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers. Air travel is generously provided by American Airlines.
For more information about “Burt Bacharach & Hal David: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House,” visit www.pbs.org/whitehouse. An electronic press kit, including downloadable talent photos for promotional use, is available at pressroom.pbs.org. To follow “In Performance at the White House” on Twitter, use hashtag #PBSipwh.
WETA Washington, D.C., is the third-largest producing station for public television. WETA’s other productions and co-productions include “PBS NewsHour,” “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal,” “The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize” and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including the premiere November 18 and 19 of “The Dust Bowl.” More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.
The Library of Congress sponsors privately endowed programs that honor achievement in the humanities and creativity. Through these awards and prizes, the world’s greatest repository of human creativity honors those who have advanced and embodied the ideals of individual creativity, conviction, dedication, scholarship and exuberance. More information is available at www.loc.gov.
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The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,300 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services. More information is available at www.cpb.org.
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