Obama honors Carole King at White House concert
President Barack Obama presents the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song during an East Room concert honoring singer-songwriter Carole King, Wednesday, May 22, 2013, at the White House in Washington. King is the first woman to receive the award. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama, saluting Carole King's five decades as an award-winning singer-songwriter, said Wednesday that music often is a place where people seek comfort and inspiration during trying times.
Two days after much of Moore, Okla., was flattened by a powerful tornado that killed 24 people, Obama pledged anew that the nation will assist with the town's recovery and rebuilding for as long as it takes.
"Eventually, life will go on and new memories will be made. New laughter will come. New songs will be sung," he said during a tribute concert for King in the East Room of the White House. "And that's often why we turn to music during trying times, for comfort and for inspiration, and sometimes just for a good diversion."
Calling her a "living legend," Obama presented King with this year's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, an award given by the Library of Congress. She is the first woman so honored and joins a list of recipients that includes Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon.
"I'm honored to be recognized by the Library of Congress as the fifth recipient and first woman as has been stated," the 71-year-old King said. "I can't say it enough. I am so excited."
She accepted the honor on behalf of the co-writers who worked on some of her songs, a massive portfolio that includes such hits as "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and "You've Got a Friend."
Several friends from King's decades in the music business came to the White House to perform in her honor, including Gloria Estefan, Billy Joel, Jesse McCartney, Emeli Sande, James Taylor and Trisha Yearwood.
King opened the show on the piano before taking a front-row seat between Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Estefan, Yearwood and Sande followed with King's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," one of her No. 1 hits. She and Taylor put their voices together on "You've Got a Friend" to close the concert.
King also sang "I Believe in Loving You," co-written with Hal David. She told The Associated Press in a recent interview that her plan is to release the song as a single to honor David, a Gershwin Prize recipient who died last year.
"I'm hoping that this will become a song that people will want to play at their weddings," she said. "It's so romantic. Hal is such a great writer, and his words live on forever."
In the interview, King said it was a tremendous honor to be recognized with a place in history she never would have expected, and to have it happen at a venue as historic as the White House.
"It is yet another of the many important messages to young women that women matter, women make a difference," King said. "That popular music is recognized by the Library of Congress as being worthy of a place in history is especially significant to me."
As her memoir, "A Natural Woman," began to sell last year, King hinted that she would like to retire. But she since has gone on tour in Australia and plans to sing at a benefit concert for Boston Marathon bombing victims.