The ASCAP Centennial Awards honored music greats Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Stephen Sondheim and Stevie Wonder Monday night, Nov. 17, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
Sting, Emmylou Harris, India.Arie, Trisha Yearwood, Bernadette Peters and Berry Gordy presented the honorees with the awards. Presenters and performers gave stunning performances of some of their greatest hits.
Five music greats received honors and star-studded tribute benefitting The ASCAP Foundation. The five icons were celebrated at 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. 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 ASCAP board member and songwriter Valerie Simpson, Bill Withers, Chris Botti, Ne-Yo, Freddy Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Holly Knight, Eric Bazilian, Elizabeth Chan, Barry Eastman, Andreas Carlsson, ASCAP board members Desmond Child and Jimmy Webb, Felix Cavaliere, Rudy Perez and more.
The event marked the first fundraiser benefiting The ASCAP Foundation and its music education, talent development and humanitarian activities. The ASCAP Foundation was established in 1975 and is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose programs affect 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 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 event's media sponsor.