Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song Premieres on PBS

Special airs on April 8, 2024, at 8 PM ET

February 12, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC (February 12, 2024) —The new concert special ELTON JOHN & BERNIE TAUPIN: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG will premiere on Monday, April 8, 2024 at 8 PM ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings). The 90-minute program honors the longtime singer-songwriter duo as the two iconic artists receive this year’s distinguished recognition from the Library of Congress. The music special will be recorded in Washington, D.C., in March 2024. Elton John and Bernie Taupin will be presented the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and a delegation of Members of Congress amid a tribute concert featuring renowned musical artists. Talent performing will be announced at a later date. The program will also stream on PBS.org, via the PBS app. It will be televised on the American Forces Network to audiences of service members and civilians at the U.S. Department of Defense and diplomatic locations worldwide.

“Our long-standing partnership with the Library of Congress illuminates the incredible contributions made by exceptional songwriters and performers,” said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, President and CEO of WETA. “Our viewers can anticipate a delightful evening celebrating Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s songwriting partnership and the duo’s influence on the music industry for nearly six decades. We are excited to honor these collaborators’ extraordinary contributions to popular music.”

“Elton John and Bernie Taupin have written some of the most memorable songs of our lives. Their careers stand out for the quality and broad appeal of their music and their influence on their fellow artists,” said Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress. “More than 50 years ago, they came from across the pond to win over Americans and audiences worldwide with their beautiful songs and rock anthems. We’re proud to join PBS viewers in honoring Elton and Bernie with the Gershwin Prize for their incredible impact on generations of music lovers.”

“We are very proud of our partnership with the Library of Congress to share the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song,” said Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS. “As America's largest stage for the performing arts, we are thrilled to give people once again a front-row seat to this extraordinary show and to spotlight the exceptional artists paying tribute to the legendary Elton John and Bernie Taupin.”

"CPB is proud to support the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and this year’s honorees, Elton John and Bernie Taupin,” said Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “In his Emmy-winning performance last year at Dodger Stadium, Elton John said, ‘I became successful first in America, so I want to thank you for that. Without America, I wouldn’t be here. Thank you for all the years of love, generosity, and loyalty.’ We are all grateful that Elton John and Bernie Taupin shared their gift with America and the world. Their songs have been part of our lives. Congratulations.” 

“The history of contemporary popular music has been enriched for over a half-century because of these two remarkable artists who saw the value of utilizing their respective strengths in marrying great lyrics and incredible melodies together,” remarked Ken Ehrlich, Founder and President of Ken Ehrlich Productions. “Their legacy contains some of the most resonant songs of any generation, and to honor them with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will result in a remarkable live event and exciting PBS show. I can't wait to put this on the stage and the screen this spring.”

Recording artist Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin joined creative forces in 1967 and went on to pen timeless standards such as “Your Song,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” In addition to ballads, the duo created sensational rock hits, including “Bennie and the Jets” and “Crocodile Rock,” which became their first No. 1 single in the U.S. in 1973.

Elton John: Six Decades of Music

Today, John is among the top-selling solo artists of all time, with over 70 Top 40 hits over six decades, including nine No. 1s and 28 Top 10s on the Billboard Hot 100. He has sold more than 300 million records worldwide. John holds the record for the biggest-selling physical single of all time with Taupin’s rewritten lyrics for “Candle in the Wind 1997,” which sold more than 33 million copies after the sudden death of Princess Diana. In 2018, he was named the most successful male solo artist in Billboard Hot 100 chart history. In America, John holds the record for the longest span between Billboard Top 40 hits at 50 years.

In 1992, John established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which continues to lead the global fight against HIV/AIDS. The foundation has raised more than $565 million for HIV/AIDS grants that have funded more than 3,000 projects in more than 90 countries to care for patients and provide education for AIDS prevention. His music and charitable service have been honored with a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II; the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest award; and the National Humanities Medal awarded by President Joe Biden at the White House in 2022.

Since launching his first tour in 1970, John has delivered more than 4,000 performances in more than 80 countries. His work has spanned recording studios, stadiums, stages, and screens — always with music that resonates with new generations of audiences. Disney’s The Lion King, carried by John’s tunes, continues to be one of Broadway’s longest-running shows.

In January 2024, John won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special for his show Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium, making him just the 19th performer to achieve rare EGOT status, having also won five GRAMMY awards, two Oscars for his work on The Lion King and with Taupin on the movie Rocketman, and a Tony Award for the score to the Broadway musical Aida.

Bernie Taupin: Artist in Words and Pictures

While their work as co-writers has been intertwined for decades, Taupin often preferred to stay behind the scenes. In their first two years, Taupin and John mostly wrote for other artists. Their first album, Empty Sky in 1969, was followed by Elton John in 1970. That second album, including the single “Your Song,” would help define their style for soaring ballads and rock songs. Taupin’s narrative songwriting, influenced by folk music, blues, and country, offered the words to help John’s melodies soar.

In addition to his work with John, Taupin has written hit songs for other artists, including Starship’s “We Built This City” and Heart’s “These Dreams,” as well as songs for Alice Cooper and Brian Wilson. In 2006, he earned a Golden Globe for “A Love That Will Never Grow Old” from the movie Brokeback Mountain.

Taupin moved to Southern California, became a U.S. citizen, and developed a love for the American West. He competed in weekend horse shows and hosted a competition for cowboys at his Santa Barbara ranch. All along, he continued to write for John from a distance, and he also wrote and made music with his Americana band, Farm Dogs. Taupin also turned to another of his passions — painting abstract and contemporary mixed-media — and he considers art his full-time career.

The 1975 album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy has been called their autobiographical album as alter egos, with the song “We All Fall in Love Sometimes” describing their partnership, which would survive as one of the most important relationships of their lives. Taupin and John were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992. In 2023, John inducted Taupin into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bestowed in recognition of the legendary songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin, the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is the nation’s highest award for influence, impact, and achievement in popular music. In making the selection for the Prize, the Librarian of Congress consulted leading members of the music and entertainment communities, as well as curators from the Library’s Music Division, American Folklife Center and Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. The Gershwin name is used in connection with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song courtesy of the families of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. GERSHWIN® is a registered trademark of Gershwin Enterprises.

From June 2007 to the most recent broadcast in March 2023, these special concert and award events have honored the musical genius of Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Garth Brooks, Lionel Richie and Joni Mitchell. The talented line-ups celebrating the honorees have included Yolanda Adams, Marc Anthony, Boyz II Men, Wayne Brady, Edie Brickell, Leon Bridges, Michael Bublé, Brandi Carlile, Elvis Costello, Ana Gabriel, CeeLo Green, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Faith Hill, Jamey Johnson, the Jonas Brothers, Angelique Kidjo, Diana Krall, Cyndi Lauper, Ledisi , Jay Leno, Annie Lennox, Lyle Lovett, Martina McBride, John Mellencamp, Marcus Mumford, Graham Nash, Micah Nelson and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Corinne Bailey Rae, LeAnn Rimes, Emeli Sandé, Jerry Seinfeld, Esperanza Spalding, James Taylor, Jack White, Will.i.am, Vanessa Williams, Bruce Willis, Stevie Wonder, Trisha Yearwood, Neil Young, and Buckwheat Zydeco.

ELTON JOHN & BERNIE TAUPIN: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG is a production of WETA Washington, D.C.; Ken Ehrlich Productions, Inc.; and the Library of Congress. The executive producers are Dr. Carla Hayden for the Library of Congress; John F. Wilson for WETA Washington, D.C.; and Ken Ehrlich for Ken Ehrlich Productions, Inc. The senior producer for WETA is Jim Corbley. The producers are Renato Basile and Chantel Sausedo for Ken Ehrlich Productions Inc., Susan. Vita and Jarrod MacNeil for the Library of Congress, and Kate Kelly for WETA. The music director is Davey Johnstone. The talent executive is Lindsay Sanders Carl. The executive in charge for PBS is Christopher Farley.

Major corporate funding for Elton John & Bernie Taupin: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is provided by Wells Fargo. Additional corporate funding is provided by the Boeing Company, Otsuka, and Universal Music Group. Additional funding is provided by The Leonore S. Gershwin Trust; AARP; the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP); Katy & Ken Menges; and FTS International, LLC. Funding is also provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Travel is provided by United Airlines. Hotel accommodations are provided by Waldorf Astoria Washington DC.

For more information about ELTON JOHN & BERNIE TAUPIN: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GERSHWIN PRIZE FOR POPULAR SONG, visit www.pbs.org/show/gershwin-prize/. To follow The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize on Twitter, use the hashtags #GershwinPrizePBS and #GershwinPrize.


WETA is the leading public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, serving Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia with educational initiatives and with high-quality programming on television, radio, and digital. WETA Washington, D.C., is the second-largest producing station for public television in the United States, with news and public affairs programs including PBS NEWSHOUR, PBS NEWS WEEKEND, and WASHINGTON WEEK WITH THE ATLANTIC; films by Ken Burns, such as THE AMERICAN BUFFALO and THE U.S. AND THE HOLOCAUST; series and documentaries by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., including FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR. and GOSPEL; performance specials including NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT, and A CAPITOL FOURTH; and health content from Well Beings, a multiplatform campaign. More information on WETA and its programs and services are available at weta.org. Visit facebook.com/wetatvfm on Facebook.

About the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services, and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

About Ken Ehrlich Productions
Ken Ehrlich Productions, led by founder and president Ken Ehrlich, is the leading production company in Los Angeles, producing television, specials, series, and events for more than 40 years. Ken Ehrlich Productions has produced the Annual GRAMMY Awards, Emmy Awards and concert specials. The company has co-produced a number of specials in the In Performance at the White House series for PBS, most recently In Performance at the White House: Spirit of the Season (2021). It has also produced varied events, such as the annual Global Citizens events in Central Park and the Women’s Cancer Research Fund gala. Additionally, it has have produced and directed Las Vegas residencies for Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and John Fogerty. Clients include CBS, NBC, and ABC, along with artists including Celine Dion, The Rolling Stones, Ricky Martin, and Jennifer Lopez, among others.

About PBS
PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 42 million adults on linear primetime television, more than 15 million users on PBS-owned streaming platforms, and 56 million people view PBS content on social media, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature, and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front-row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS LearningMedia for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. As the number one educational media brand, PBS KIDS helps children 2-8 build critical skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality content on TV — including a PBS KIDS channel — and streaming free on pbskids.org and the PBS KIDS Video app, games on the PBS KIDS Games app, and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at PBS.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet,and  Facebook and Instagram, or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Communications on X (formerly Twitter).

About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
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Lameka Lucas, WETA / llucas@weta.org
Brett Zongker, Library of Congress / bzongker@loc.gov          
Meredith A. Wohl, PBS / mawohl@pbs.org