Stephen Sondheim, Billy Joel Among Music Icons to Receive ASCAP Centennial Awards

Stephen Sondheim, Billy Joel Among Music Icons to Receive ASCAP Centennial Awards

ASCAP President & Chairman Paul Williams announced today that ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) will confer its singular, once-in-a-century ASCAP Centennial Awards, to a select group of American music icons in recognition of their incomparable accomplishments in their respective music genres and beyond. Those confirmed to receive this prestigious accolade are ASCAP members Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Stephen Sondheim and Stevie Wonder.

The unique presentations will take place on Monday evening, November 17th, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, in New York, at a gala party celebrating ASCAP's historic 100th anniversary. The event will be hosted by Williams and feature the Centennial Award recipients as well as the special guest artists who will perform in tribute to the honorees. In addition, several young ASCAP Foundation award recipients will be on hand to showcase their talent.

The event also marks the first-ever fundraiser benefiting The ASCAP Foundation and its music education, talent development and humanitarian activities. The ASCAP Foundation, which Paul Williams also serves as President, was established in 1975 and is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose programs impact countless deserving composers, songwriters, lyricists and music education organizations nationwide. Funds raised from this evening will help sustain the Foundation's significant efforts in safeguarding the future of music and affording opportunities for memorable music experiences to the disadvantaged.

"Each of our ASCAP Centennial Award recipients is in a class of his or her own, as the creator and performer of songs that have touched the lives of people across the globe. It's wonderful to be able to salute them on the occasion of ASCAP's Centennial year and, as important, to raise funds to perpetuate the important work being done by The ASCAP Foundation," said Paul Williams.

Billboard is the media sponsor for this event.

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Joan Baez
A major American artist since her 1959 introduction at the Newport Folk Festival and 1960 recording debut as a teenaged folk singing sensation, Joan Baez has combined a storied recording career with a passion for human rights and social justice. She remains a musical force of nature whose influence is incalculable from marching on the front line of the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King to inspiring Vaclav Havel in his fight for a Czech Republic. Her earliest recordings fed a host of traditional ballads into the rock vernacular, before she unselfconsciously introduced Bob Dylan to the world in 1963, beginning a tradition of mutual mentoring that continues to this day. Amongst the many accolades bestowed upon her, she is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, the greatest honor that the Recording Academy can bestow (2007). Day After Tomorrow, her 2008 album was praised by critics and nominated for a Grammy. That album's release was followed by the PBS American Masters premier of her life story, Joan Baez: How Sweet The Sound.

Garth Brooks
Among the best-selling recording and concert artists of all time, country superstar Garth Brooks was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His career took off in 1989 with the release of his self-titled first album. Certified by the RIAA in 2000 as the #1-selling solo artist in U.S. history, Garth Brooks has sold in excess of 134 million albums and has received every accolade the recording industry can bestow on an artist. In 2001, Brooks retired and moved back to Oklahoma to raise his children. In 2008 The President-elect personally requested that Garth headline President Obama's Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. That same year Brooks performed 5 concerts in 2 days with the proceeds from 83,000 tickets sold donated to efforts to prevent fire catastrophes. In December 2010, Brooks played 9 sold out concerts in 6 days to raise money for flood relief efforts in Tennessee. Among the many hit singles he has co-written are the Number One songs "If Tomorrow Never Comes," "Unanswered Prayers," "The Thunder Rolls," "She's Every Woman," "Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)," and "That Summer." Brooks has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and is the recipient of two Grammy Awards.

Billy Joel
Billy Joel is one of most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in the world. Throughout his career, Joel's songs have acted as personal and cultural touchstones for millions of people, mirroring his own goal of writing songs that "meant something during the time in which I lived ... and transcended that time." In 2013, Madison Square Garden announced Billy Joel as the first-ever music franchise of "The World's Most Famous Arena." Also, in 2013, Billy Joel received the 36th Annual Kennedy Center Honor, one of the United States' top cultural awards. The singer-songwriter, known for piano-fueled narratives that take listeners into the relatable and deeply personal crevices of life, has generated 33 Top 40 hits spanning five decades, won six Grammy Awards and sold 150 million albums. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and presented with the Johnny Mercer Award, the organization's highest honor, in 2001. In 1999 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and has received the Recording Industry Association of America Diamond Award. In 2004, Movin' Out, a Broadway musical based on Joel's music took home two including Best Orchestrations Billy's first Tony Award win. He will also be presented with the 2014 Library Congress Gershwin Prize later this year.