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ASCAP Foundation Launches Alan and Marilyn Bergman Lyric Award for Emerging Songwriters

The award will be presented to a writer whose quality of music and overall style reflects the craftsmanship of Great American Songbook composers and lyricists.

The ASCAP Foundation has established a new award to honor songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, whose most famous songs include “The Windmills of Your Mind,” “The Way We Were” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”

The ASCAP Foundation Alan and Marilyn Bergman Lyric Award is a new program which includes a $5,000 award to be presented to a songwriter or lyricist who is at the early stages of their career, and whose quality of lyrics, music and overall style reflects the craftsmanship of Great American Songbook composers and lyricists.

“We are excited to launch this new award program that will support emerging songwriters and lyricists who are creating new contributions to the Great American Songbook, and who are as passionate about their craft as Alan and Marilyn,” ASCAP Foundation president Paul Williams said in a statement.

“The opportunity to nurture rising talent who practice the craft that Marilyn and I loved means so much,” said Alan Bergman. “I’m looking forward to working with The ASCAP Foundation and hearing from the young songwriters and lyricists that are creating the great songs of the future.”

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Bergman, 97, and his late wife Marilyn, who died of respiratory failure in January at age 93, are among the top lyric writing teams in music history. They won three Oscars, four Primetime Emmys and two Grammys, among many other honors.

The Bergmans received 15 Oscar nominations for best original song, a total equaled or surpassed by just three songwriters in history — Sammy Cahn (26), Johnny Mercer (18) and Paul Francis Webster (16). In 1983, they became the first and only songwriters to receive three nominations for best original song in one year, for “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” (from Best Friends), “It Might Be You” (from Tootsie) and “If We Were in Love” (from Yes, Giorgio).

The pair had an especially close relationship with Barbra Streisand. They won two of their three Oscars, both of their Grammys and one of their four Primetime Emmys for songs they wrote for the singer’s film and TV projects. In 2011, Streisand recorded a collection of their songs, What Matters Most, subtitled Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, as a tribute to her long-time friends and colleagues. The album reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and received a Grammy nomination for best traditional pop vocal album.   

The Bergmans were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980 and received that organization’s top award, the Johnny Mercer Award, in 1997. They received a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Songwriters in 1995 and a trustees award from the Recording Academy in 2013.

Playing against type, the writers, best known for their exquisite ballads, also wrote the catchy theme songs for the long-running sitcoms Maude, Good Times and Alice.

Marilyn Bergman was the first woman elected to ASCAP’s board of directors and served as ASCAP’s president and chairman from 1994 to 2009. She helped lead ASCAP to several major legislative victories, including the Supreme Court’s decision in 2003 to uphold the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which extended copyright protection an extra 20 years – to the life of the author plus 70 years.

The ASCAP Foundation Alan and Marilyn Bergman Lyric Award program is currently accepting nominations. Applicants are judged on the quality of lyrics, strong melody, and music and poetic rhythm. The rules and application process can be found at http://www.ascap.com/bergmanaward. For further information, email bergmanlyricaward@ascap.com.

Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education, talent development and humanitarian programs.