The former Brill Building writer co-wrote hits in the 1960s including the Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” the Chiffons’ “One Fine Day,” the Drifters’ “Up On the Roof” and the Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” among dozens of others, before becoming a star in her own right with her 1971 album “Tapestry,” one of the biggest-selling albums of all time.
King will be feted next spring in Washington, D.C., at a ceremony that typically features the recipient and a variety of top-name performers singing his or her songs. Previous Gershwin Prize winners are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney and the team of Hal David and Burt Bacharach.
“Carole King has been one of the most influential songwriters of our time,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “For more than five decades, she has written for and been recorded by many different types of artists for a wide range of audiences, communicating with beauty and dignity the universal human emotions of love, joy, pain and loss. Her body of work reflects the spirit of the Gershwin Prize with its originality, longevity and diversity of appeal.”
In the same statement, King said, “I was so pleased when the venerable Library of Congress began honoring writers of popular songs with the Gershwin Prize. I’m proud to be the fifth such honoree and the first woman among such distinguished company. I look forward to performing in the nation’s capital.”
“Tapestry” earned King a rare diamond award from the Recording Industry Assn. of America in recognition of sales of more than 10 million copies. The collection spent 15 weeks at No. 1 in 1971, earned Grammy Awards as album of the year, record of the year for “It’s Too Late,” song of the year for “You’ve Got a Friend” and female pop vocal to King for the title track.
More than 1,000 performers have recorded more than 400 of her songs, yielding 100 hit singles, according to the Library of Congress.
Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2