After all those hits along the long and winding road to fame, you’d think nothing would fluster Paul McCartney. Think again.
Sir Paul confessed he was “slightly nervous” in the leadup to Wednesday’s big concert at the White House, where President Barack Obama was presenting McCartney with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
An all-star cast lined up to perform at the East Room tribute concert, including the Jonas Brothers, Faith Hill, Stevie Wonder and Jerry Seinfeld. Also to appear: Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, White Stripes singer and guitarist Jack White and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. McCartney himself was to perform as well.
McCartney, 67, is the third recipient of the Gershwin prize, awarded by the Library of Congress. It is named for the songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin, whose collections are housed at the library. Previous recipients of the Gershwin award are Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon.
McCartney played a private concert at the library on Tuesday, and said he’d grown up listening to music by the Gershwin brothers.
For all the awards the former Beatle has collected over the years, he said performing before the Obamas in the East Room still would be a pinch-me moment.
“For an English kid growing up in Liverpool, the White House – that’s pretty special,” he said.
“He’s a great guy,” McCartney said of Obama, “so lay off him.”
Librarian of Congress James Billington credited McCartney for “symbolizing and humanizing the global soundscape,” with his music and his activism around the world.
Those not lucky enough to snag tickets to the East Room gig can catch the concert July 28th, when it’s televised on PBS’ “In Performance at the White House.”
Associated Press writer Brett Zongker contributed to this report.
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