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Carole King to Receive 2013 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Carole King
Michael Buckner, Getty Images

Legendary singer-songwriter Carole King will receive the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, announced the award today (Dec. 13), saying King will travel to Washington to perform at the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium next spring.

The 70-year-old musician got her career start as a contract songwriter in the legendary Brill Building scene that also spawned fellow Gershwin Award recipients Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Working with her writing partner Gerry Goffin (whom she also married, then divorced), she began getting cuts as a writer on other artists, including ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ by the Monkees, ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ by the Shirelles, and ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’ by Aretha Franklin.

Turning her attention to a solo career, King shot to superstardom with her second album ‘Tapestry’ in 1971. Featuring all-time classics including ‘I Feel the Earth Move,’ ‘So Far Away,’ ‘It’s Too Late’ and ‘You’ve Got a Friend,’ the album spent 15 weeks at No. 1 and eventually sold more than 25 million copies, helping to break down the door for women singers who wrote their own material.

King has remained active in both recording and touring in subsequent decades, and her songs have been recorded by a vast array of artists as diverse as Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, Roberta Flack, Bryan Ferry, Dave Mason and many, many more. In 2010 she staged an enormously successful tour with old friend James Taylor, which was then documented in the release ‘Live at the Troubadour.’ In May of 2012 she announced that she was retiring from recording and performing, saying it was unlikely that she would ever write another song.

The Gershwin honor seems a fitting cap to a career that has also seen King included in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “I was so pleased when the venerable Library of Congress began honoring writers of popular songs with the Gershwin Prize,” King says in a press release. “I’m proud to be the fifth such honoree and the first woman among such distinguished company.”

In addition to Bacharach and David, the previous winners of the Gershwin Prize are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and Paul McCartney.

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