Carole King to receive Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

From the Brill Building to the Library of Congress — songwriting legend Carole King is coming to Washington to receive the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced on Thursday that the 70-year-old songwriter will perform at the library’s Coolidge Auditorium in the spring.

“I was so pleased when the venerable Library of Congress began honoring writers of popular songs with the Gershwin Prize,” King said in a statement. “I’m proud to be the fifth such honoree and the first woman among such distinguished company.”

Besides being the first woman to receive the prize, King is the second overall winner to come from the Brill Building, that storied Manhattan song factory where she got her start. Brill Building giants Burt Bacharach and Hal David received the 2012 Gershwin Prize. Other recipients of the award — named after songwriting colossi George and Ira Gershwin — are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Paul ­McCartney.

“Carole King has been one of the most influential songwriters of our time,” Billington said in Thursday’s statement. “For more than five decades, she has written for and been recorded by many different types of artists for a wide range of audiences, communicating with beauty and dignity the universal human emotions of love, joy, pain and loss.”


Singer/songwriter Carole King performs onstage during a celebration of Carole King and her music to benefit Paul Newman's The Painted Turtle Camp. (Michael Buckner/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE PAINTED TURTLE CAMP)

She started young, writing her first chart-topping single — “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for the Shirelles, with then-husband Gerry Goffin — at the age of 17 . King went on to pen some of the best-known songs in the American songbook, including “You’ve Got a Friend” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Her solo album “Tapestry” reigned at the top of the U.S. albums chart for 15 weeks in 1971 and has sold more than 25 million copies.

King still performs with tremendous energy. During a 2010 performance of “I Feel the Earth Move” at Washington’s Verizon Center she shouted to the audience, “This is my day job!”

Chris Richards became the Post's pop music critic in 2009. He has covered D.I.Y. house shows, White House concerts, go-go and Gaga.
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