Blazing a trail?
At the age of just 17, King co-wrote her first number one hit – “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by The Shirelles. Now, at 71, having penned a huge catalogue of classics, she has become the first woman to win the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
The honour is fairly new, but it’s very prestigious – Paul Simon won the inaugural prize in 2007, followed by Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. President Obama presented King with the award at the White House, describing her as a “living legend” who had “done everything from doo-wop to pop” and “played with everyone from Bono to Babyface”.
What did she make of that?
Though the songwriter was a big supporter of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic candidacy in 2008, she happily received an affectionate peck on the cheek from Mr Obama. Since her career as a musician slowed down, King has been outspoken on political issues - particularly the environment - and she couldn’t resist adding a little spice to the end of her acceptance speech.
“When I was a child we had a piano in our living room, I had music teachers in public school, and I had parents who encouraged me every step of the way,” she said. “If only every child could have the support I had.” At the ceremony, stars including Gloria Estefan and Billy Joel performed in her honour, as well as Emeli Sandé.
Should Gerry Goffin have shared her award?
Goffin, King’s ex-husband, co-wrote many of their biggest hits during the 1960s. Among them were Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Take Good Care of My Baby” and “The Loco-Motion”.
However, the pair had divorced by the time King found global success as a solo artist with the album Tapestry. The 1971 record, which included the track “I Feel The Earth Move”, topped the US chart for 15 weeks.