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Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Stephen Sondheim And Stevie Wonder To Receive ASCAP Centennial Awards

New York, NY – 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.

Stephen Sondheim
Widely acknowledged as one of the musical theater’s greatest creative forces of the past five decades, composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim is the winner of eight Tony Awards, an Academy Award, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and a Kennedy Center Honor. He has also been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the American Theater Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts & Letters. The prolific New York native was a protégé of Oscar Hammerstein II. Early in his career, Sondheim wrote lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy. Since then, he has composed both music and lyrics for a long list of Broadway classics, including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods.

Stevie Wonder
American singer, songwriter, musician, and producer, Stevie Wonder, is one of the most celebrated and influential artists in popular music, having amassed 49 Top Forty singles, 32 #1 singles, worldwide sales of over 100 million units, 25 Grammy Awards and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. His catalogue of original song hits includes “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)),” “I Was Made to Love Her,” “My Cherie Amour,” “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” “Superstition,” “Sir Duke,” “Isn’t She Lovely,” “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You” which won an Oscar and a Golden Globe. He is the youngest recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and is an inductee into both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters’ Halls of Fame. Displaying extraordinary humanitarian and philanthropic leadership, Stevie spearheaded the realization of “Martin Luther King Day” as a national holiday and worked to end apartheid in South Africa. He is a Commander of France’s National Order of Arts and Letters and is a designated United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on persons with disabilities.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP’s mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world’s best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business – from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With 500,000 members representing more than 9 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members.

About The ASCAP Foundation
Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) publicly supported charitable organization dedicated to nurturing the talent of tomorrow, preserving the legacy of the past and sustaining the creative incentive for today’s music creators through a variety of educational, professional, and humanitarian programs and activities which serve the music community. The ASCAP Foundation operates and supports a variety of programs impacting millions of music creators and music lovers of all ages nationwide including: commissions; music scholarships and fellowships; songwriter, composer, lyricist workshops and showcases; summer music camps, special awards and honors and community outreach programs. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States.