WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Paul McCartney: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House” is a PBS music special in the White House East Room that WETA will produce in association with the Library of Congress, Mark Krantz Productions and CoMedia. President and Mrs. Obama will host the concert event on June 2 in honor of musician Sir Paul McCartney’s receipt of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The evening will include performances by McCartney himself and Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Jonas Brothers, Herbie Hancock, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dave Grohl, Faith Hill, Emmylou Harris, Lang Lang and Jack White, with remarks by Jerry Seinfeld. (Program subject to change.) President Obama will present the Gershwin Prize to McCartney during the event. The ninety-minute music special, part of the PBS “In Performance at the White House” series, will feature the concert event, as well as behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. The program airs Wednesday, July 28 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide, followed by an encore presentation at 9:30 p.m. (Check local listings.)
“WETA is proud to bring this concert to the American people in collaboration with the White House,” noted Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA. “This event marks the forty-fourth production of the WETA ‘In Performance at the White House’ series and it is our continuing delight to share these rich cultural experiences with the wide public television viewing audience.”
“‘Paul McCartney: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House’ will provide PBS viewers a very special evening with a true living legend of music. This performance special reflects PBS’s longstanding commitment to ensure all Americans have access to the arts and culture,” said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger.
“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 Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “The Library of Congress selected a true icon for this honor in Sir Paul McCartney. We’re pleased that people everywhere will be able to join in the acclaim.”
“CPB is proud to support this program, and the ‘In Performance at the White House’ series, which celebrates our cultural heritage and music history,” said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). “CPB, in support of public service media, is committed to the development of programs that inspire, educate, inform and entertain. The ‘In Performance at the White House’ series is a powerful example of how CPB furthers this commitment.”
Since writing his first song at the age of 14, Liverpool native Paul McCartney has dreamed and dared to be different. In the 1960s, as the writer and co-author of The Beatles’ greatest songs, he changed the world of music. Legendary albums include Please Please Me, Revolver, Help!, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The White Album. McCartney has continued to push boundaries of music over the last 30 years, first as a solo artist, then with the band Wings, and following that as a solo artist again, with recent highlights including 2007’s Memory Almost Full. Most recently he received critical acclaim as “The Fireman,” a collaborative project between McCartney and revered ambient producer Youth, with their 2008 Electric Arguments album, and for his 2009 multi-disc CD/DVD Good Evening New York City.
Equally renowned as a live performer as he is a songwriter, McCartney is also an accomplished, award-winning classical composer. He has spent much of the last five years performing sold-out concerts to millions of people all over the world. His 2009 line-up included The GRAMMY Awards; David Lynch Foundation’s benefit concert; headlining the Coachella Festival; the opening of The New Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas; his first concert in Halifax, Nova Scotia; and a five-week tour of the United States, including the inaugural run of shows at New York’s Citi Field Stadium, which was the site of the former Shea Stadium where The Beatles made history in 1965, playing a concert that set the precedent for the modern-day stadium rock show.
Among the many recognitions he has received, McCartney was awarded a special Outstanding Contribution Award at the 2008 BRIT Awards at Earls Court in London and presented from Yale University with an honorary doctorate of music. McCartney is a freeman of The City of Liverpool and Lead Patron of The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, and he was also appointed Fellow of The Royal College of Music in 1995 by The Prince of Wales. In 1996, McCartney was knighted by H.M. the Queen of England for his services to music.
“Paul McCartney: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House” will be the fourth “In Performance at the White House” program during President Barack Obama’s administration. A February 2009 event, “In Performance at the White House - Celebrating the Music of Stevie Wonder: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize,” honored musician Stevie Wonder’s receipt of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. An October 2009 concert, “In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina,” was broadcast nationwide during National Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrated Hispanic musical heritage with a star-studded line-up that included Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, José Feliciano and Eva Longoria Parker. Most recently, a February 2010 event, “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement,” marked Black History Month with performances by such artists as Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson, and the White House debut of Bob Dylan.
“In Performance at the White House” has been produced by WETA since 1978 and spans every administration since President Carter’s. 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, 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.
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 and the second to Stevie Wonder in February 2009.
“Paul McCartney: 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, 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 and Dalton Delan. The executive producers of “Paul McCartney: 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. Corporate funding for the program is provided by U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management; Pepsi-Cola; and EastOne Group. Foundation support is provided by The Annenberg Foundation and Pritzker Traubert Family 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 “Paul McCartney: 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.
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 this September of “The Tenth Inning,” a continuation of the beloved “BASEBALL” series. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.
PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans — from every walk of life — the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 115 million people on-air and online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and Web site, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.
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.
CPB is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 and is steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,100 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 about CPB is available at www.cpb.org.
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