Billy Joel: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize
A native of Long Island, New York, Joel has had 33 Top 40 hits and 23 GRAMMY Award nominations since signing his first solo recording contract in 1972. In 1990, he was presented with a GRAMMY Legend Award. Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992, Joel was 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, presented for albums that have sold more than 10 million copies. In 2010, Joel released the documentary The Last Play at Shea, about the intersecting histories of a city, a team and a music legend, charting both the ups and downs of the New York Mets and the life and career of Joel, who was the last performer to play Shea Stadium before its demolition in 2008. In 2013, Joel received the 36th Annual Kennedy Center Honor.
Joel has donated his time and resources to a variety of charitable causes outside the realm of his musical career. New York’s quintessential son, Bill Joel performed six songs at the historical “12.12.12 The Concert for Sandy Relief,” joining other music greats to raise awareness and money to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. The show, which included tributes to first responders and those affected by the storm, was broadcast to an estimated 2 billion viewers and raised $32 million in funds before anyone took the stage. Additionally, as a longtime advocate for music education, he first began holding “master class” sessions on college campuses more than 20 years ago, giving sessions at colleges across the country and around the world. In addition, he has held classes as a benefit for the STAR Foundation (Standing for Truth About Radiation) and to establish the Rosalind Joel Scholarship for the Performing Arts at City College in New York City. For his accomplishments as a musician and as a humanitarian, Billy Joel was honored as the 2002 MusiCares Person Of The Year by the MusiCares Foundation and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.
“Movin’ Out,” a Broadway musical based on Joel’s music, choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp, was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and took home two including Best Orchestrations — Joel’s first Tony Award win — and Best Choreography. Additionally, Joel has earned three Awards For Cable Excellence and has received numerous ASCAP and BMI awards including the ASCAP Founders Award and the BMI Career Achievement Award and, in 1994, was given the Billboard Century Award. Among his many other awards and honors, Billy Joel has been given a Doctor of Humane Letters from Fairfield University (1991), a Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music (1993), and a Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University (1997) and a Doctor of Music from Southampton College.