Beloved American standards singer Tony Bennett will receive the next Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the Library of Congress announced on Tuesday.
The award, named after brothers George and Ira Gershwin, celebrates artists for “promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding, entertaining and informing audiences, and inspiring new generations.”
This year, the institution has decided to honor Bennett for his chart-topping career. Past recipients of the award include Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Carole King and Stevie Wonder.
“Tony Bennett is one of the most accomplished and beloved artists of our time. ” Librarian of Congress representative Carla Hayden said. “His staying power is a testament to the enduring appeal of the Great American Songbook the Gershwins helped write, and his ability to collaborate with new generations of music icons has been a gift to music lovers of all ages.”
Ever since the 1950s, Bennett has been releasing charting albums and singles. He debuted in 1952 with his album ‘Because of You,’ followed by countless hits, his signature 1962 song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” To date, the 90-year-old performer has won 19 Grammys, including Album of the Year for 1995’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ – considered a revival to his career – and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. In 2005 Kennedy Center Honors.
The following years he continued recording and touring. In 2014, his collaboration with Lady Gaga, ‘Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek,’ debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. A year later, he recorded ‘The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern,’ earning a Grammy.
Bennett is an absolute fan of the Gershwin brothers
After finding out about the award, Bennett spoke about how much he has always loved and admired the Gershwins’ songwriting.
“When I was still using the stage name ‘Joe Bari’ I made a demo record that was a two-sided 78 disc, and one of the sides I recorded was ‘Fascinating Rhythm,’ which was written by George and Ira Gershwin,” he said, adding that he’s really proud that happened.
“To be receiving an award that was named in their honor is one of the greatest thrills of my career. I am deeply appreciative to the Library of Congress to be named this year’s recipient,” he said.
Bennett is scheduled to accept the award in Washington in November.