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Tuesday, March 10 at 8 p.m. Paul Simon: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

(Rochester, NY) Paul Simon: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, airing Tuesday, March 10 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (cable 1011 and DT 21.1), celebrates Paul Simon, one of America's most respected songwriters and musicians and the first recipient of the prize. Taped at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC, on May 23, 2007, the high-definition special features tributes from a star-studded line-up of performers and presenters, including Yolanda Adams, Marc Anthony, Dixie Hummingbirds, Jerry Douglas, Art Garfunkel, Alison Krauss, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lyle Lovett, Stephen Marley, James Taylor, and Buckwheat Zydeco. Presenters include former poet laureate Billy Collins, Bob Costas, and Lorne Michaels. 

Upon being notified of receiving the honor, Simon said, "I am grateful to be the recipient of the Gershwin Prize and doubly honored to be the first. Spending an evening in the company of artists I admire is a songwriter's dream come true."

During his distinguished career, Paul Simon has received many awards and prizes, including 12 Grammy Awards, three for album of the year; the 1986 winner Graceland was recently selected as part of the Library's National Recording Registry. Simon also is a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as half of the Simon and Garfunkel duo and again in 2001 as a solo artist. He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and a 2002 Kennedy Center Honoree. In 2006, Time magazine named Paul Simon one of the "100 People Who Shaped the World." Simon was the first American artist invited by President Nelson Mandela to perform in post-apartheid South Africa.

The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is named in honor of the legendary George and Ira Gershwin. This newly created award recognizes the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world's culture. The prize will be given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.

In the same manner that Librarian of Congress James H. Billington consults with the wider cultural community to select the Poet Laureate and the John W. Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity, he turned to leading members of the music community and to the expertise of the Library's Music Division to develop an award that recognizes musical achievement in popular culture all over the world. "The Gershwin Prize is a milestone in the Library's mission to recognize and celebrate creativity in order to spark imagination in this and future generations," said Billington. "Few songwriters have had a broader influence or contributed more to song genres than Paul Simon. Because of the depth, range, and sheer beauty of his music, as well as its ability to bridge peoples and cultures, he is the perfect first recipient of this prestigious award," says Billington. 

For more information, visit http://www.pbs.org/gershwinprize.

Pictured: Paul Simon
Photo Credit: Robert Clark

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