President Obama Wednesday night awarded the nation’s highest prize for popular music to “two kings of songwriting,” Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
“The Gershwin Prize is named for one of the great American songwriting duos of all time. And it’s fitting that tonight’s award is being presented to another,” the president said at a White House concert honoring the work of Bacharach and David.
The concert, part of the “In Performance at The White House” series, featured musical performances by Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Lyle Lovett, Stevie Wonder, Arturo Sandoval. Even Mike Myers, who worked with Bacharach in the “Austin” Powers movies, was there.
In the 55 years since their first song hit the airwaves, Bacharach and David collaborated on 48 Top 10 hits, including “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” and “Walk on By.”
“Above all, they stayed true to themselves. And with an unmistakable authenticity, they captured the emotions of our daily lives – the good times, the bad times, and everything in between,” the president said. “They have lived their lives on their own terms, and they’ve taught Americans of all ages to embrace their individual stories, even as we move forward together.”
The president also noted that their songs still resonate today. “Alicia Keys and John Legend are recording their songs. Burt is appearing on ‘American Idol’ and ‘Dancing With the Stars,’” Obama said to laughter from the audience in the East Room. “And in 2004, Burt and Hal worked with Twista, Kanye West and Jamie Foxx to get back to number one with a slow-jam medley. So these guys can work with anybody.”