Elton John has earned Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards—the famed EGOT—for his work as a songwriter and entertainer, but an honor announced this week has us here at I Love Libraries particularly excited: the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, which John will share with his longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced January 30 that John and Taupin, the duo responsible for “Tiny Dancer,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” “Rocket Man,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and tons of other timeless hits, will receive the honor at a tribute concert March 20 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
The Library of Congress refers to the Gershwin Prize—named after songwriters George and Ira Gershwin—as “the nation’s highest award for influence, impact, and achievement in popular music.” Hayden consulted with leading members of the music and entertainment communities, as well as curators from the Library of Congress’ Music Division, American Folklife Center, and National Audio-Visual Conservation Center before selecting John and Taupin as this year’s recipients.
“Elton John and Bernie Taupin have written some of the most memorable songs of our lives,” Hayden said in a statement. “Their careers stand out for the quality and broad appeal of their music and their influence on their fellow artists. More than 50 years ago, they came from across the pond to win over Americans and audiences worldwide with their beautiful songs and rock anthems. We’re proud to honor Elton and Bernie with the Gershwin Prize for their incredible impact on generations of music lovers.”
John and Taupin’s honor marks the 14th time the Library of Congress has awarded the Gershwin Prize since it was introduced in 2007, and the third time it has gone to a songwriting duo. (Gloria and Emilio Estefan received the prize in 2019, and Burt Bacharach and Hal David were honored in 2012). Other recipients include Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Carole King, and Lionel Richie.
“I’ve been writing songs with Bernie for 56 years, and we never thought that one day this might be bestowed upon us,” John said in a statement. “It’s an incredible honor for two British guys to be recognized like this. I’m so honored.”
The Gershwin Prize tribute concert will be broadcast April 8 at 8 p.m. on PBS.