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Elton John and Bernie Taupin Receive Gershwin Prize Print-ready version

by Christina Knight
Thirteen/WNET
March 21, 2024

Elton John (center in pink suit) and Bernie Taupin (center in dark suit) post with performers at the Gershwin Prize taping on March 20. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.

Music legends and career-long songwriting partners Elton John and Bernie Taupin were honored with The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song on March 20 at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The live performance event will be broadcast in the annual PBS television program Gershwin Prize on April 8 at 8 p.m. ET and will also be available via livestream (thirteen.org/live).

Elton John is the incredibly famous pop artist, but the very lyrics we sing along to come from his professional partner, lyricist Bernie Taupin, whom Elton credits as originating most of his songs. In 2020, the Englishmen shared the Oscar for Music (Original Song) for the film Rocketman at the 92nd Academy Awards. The two now share the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The prize honors the brothers George and Ira Gershwin's dedication to American song and culture, and the generous efforts of their families to preserve and perpetuate that heritage. The Gershwin Prize medal is adapted from the design of the Library's Congressional Gold Medal.

The televised program Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will feature a retrospective of their careers, interviews and live performances from Joni Mitchell, Garth Brooks, Brandi Carlile, Annie Lennox, Metallica, Maren Morris, Billy Porter, Charlie Puth and Jacob Lusk of Gabriels, plus many members from Elton John's band.

Television audiences will be treated to Elton claiming the piano to perform "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and "Your Song." Country star Garth Brooks, a fellow Gershwin Prize recipient, sang the ballad "Daniel." Joni Mitchell, the Gershwin Prize recipient in 2023, joined with Annie Lennox and Brandi Carlile to perform "I'm Still Standing." Charlie Puth, the young songwriter from Rumsen, NJ, who became famous on YouTube and collaborated with Elton on the Lockdown Sessions album ("After All"), performs "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."

Elton John and Bernie Taupin were chosen for the Gershwin Prize honor by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, in consultation with numerous experts, with the following criteria, according to the Library of Congress site:

-Artistic merit
-Achievement and influence in promoting music as a vehicle for musical expression and cultural understanding
-Impact and achievement in entertaining and informing audiences
-Inspiration of a new generation of composers and performers

You may have seen Elton John and Bernie Taupin together last at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction on New Year's Day 2024, when Taupin accepted his 2023 induction. The songwriter's eloquent remarks then compared songwriting to making movies and he said his inspiration has included fiction and motion pictures. "I've always liked to mix things up, intertwine ideas and keep your songbook racing between styles," Taupin added.

This national broadcast with this songwriting duo and the stars who came out to celebrate their songs is not to be missed! USA Today's report on the performances and ceremony included that it was the first time Elton John has ever sat in the audience and listened to his own band - and that among the invite-only audience were Supreme Court justices.

After the broadcast on April 8, the episode Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will be available to stream on THIRTEEN.org and the THIRTEEN Explore and PBS apps.

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Added to Library on March 25, 2024. (622)

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