November 18, 2014

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

Five music greats receive honors and star-studded tribute at Waldorf Astoria gala benefitting The ASCAP Foundation

New York, NY – November 18th, 2014 – The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) presented its singular, once-in-a-lifetime ASCAP Centennial Awards to Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Stephen Sondheim and Stevie Wonder on Monday, November 17th, at a gala party at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City celebrating ASCAP’s historic 100th anniversary.

The event, hosted by ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, featured the Centennial Award recipients as well as special guest artists who performed in tribute to the honorees.

Sting and Chris Botti teamed up for an energetic performance of "Big Man on Mulberry Street," before introducing the evening’s first honoree, Billy Joel. Joel expressed his gratitude for the Award and then delighted the crowd with a performance of "New York State of Mind." Trisha Yearwood paid tribute to her husband Garth Brooks before proceeding with a loving performance of "If Tomorrow Never Comes." Garth humbly accepted his award before performing his new song "I Am A Song," for the first time. Bernadette Peters sparkled with her performance of "Children Will Listen" in honor of Stephen Sondheim before Emmylou Harris paid a heartfelt tribute to Joan Baez by singing "Diamonds And Rust." Joan took the stage for a powerful performance of "Forever Young."

Stevie Wonder was the evening’s final honoree. He was welcomed to the stage with a five-song medley by India.Arie, which featured songs including "Rocket Love," "Blame It On The Sun" and "I Just Called To Say I Love You." Paul Williams came back to the stage to introduce Berry Gordy, thanking him for pioneering the addition of modern R&B to the ASCAP family. Mr. Gordy recalled his long relationship with Stevie Wonder, calling him his son "only when he’s good" before presenting him with his Centennial Award. Stevie brought the entire crowd to its feet with a powerhouse performance of "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" and "Superstition."

Other musical luminaries in attendance included Bill Withers, Chris Botti, Ne-Yo, Freddy Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Holly Knight, Eric Bazilian, Elizabeth Chan, Barry Eastman, Andreas Carlsson, ASCAP Board members Valerie Simpson, Desmond Child and Jimmy Webb, as well as Felix Cavaliere, Rudy Perez and more.

The event marked the first-ever fundraiser benefiting The ASCAP Foundation and its music education, talent development and humanitarian activities. The ASCAP Foundation, for 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 the 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.

As a special treat, several young ASCAP Foundation award recipients were on hand to showcase their talent, including Emily Bear, John Fullbright, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Lydia Caesar.

Billboard was the media sponsor for the event.

ASCAP in the News

Billboard: Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel and More Honored at ASCAP's Centennial Awards Gala

Stevie Wonder gave an emotional speech that silenced the crowd, Garth Brooks was misty eyed and Billy Joel was classic when he performed "New York State of Mind." The ASCAP Centennial Awards on Monday night honored the musical icons -- including Joan Baez and Stephen Sondheim -- at a gala in New York City. Visit Article

Last night, some of the most successful and iconic songwriters of the past half-century captivated an audience of about 800 with performances and speeches at the ASCAP Centennial Awards in New York City. Visit Article

ASCAP celebrated its 100-year anniversary in style Monday night with their Centennial Awards, a swanky, once-in-a-century affair at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. The venerable performing rights organization, which collects performance money for artists, honored Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Stephen Sondheim and Joan Baez. Visit Article

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 700,000 members representing more than 11.5 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.


Fran Curtis / Cara Hutchison

Rogers & Cowan

212-878-5002 / 212-878-5026 /