An Unexpected Gift
Last month while browsing through the newspaper I came across the following:
Lionel Richie to Receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song
PBS to Broadcast Special Television Concert Honoring Lionel Richie on May 17, 2022.
The Library of Congress offers annually the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to a living musical artists whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin, by promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations of musicians.
This caught my interest and so I watched the program when it aired.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden remarked, “In so many ways, this national honor was made for Lionel Richie, whose music has entertained and inspired us— and helped strengthen our global connections. Lionel Richie’s unforgettable work has shown us that music can bring us together. Even when we face problems and disagree on issues, songs can show us what we have in common.” This statement was illustrated silently but powerfully on the stage when several members of Congress and some other government officials who are connected with the Library of Congress stood side by side for the presentation that they all had supported even though they hold very different political positions on many issues.
If you would like a short illustration of the type of music that was the reason for his award, look up (Google) on YouTube Love Oh Love Lionel Richie (Official Version) for a song that was one of his hits of ten years ago. The visuals for this song had been refreshed as recently as just a few months ago, but the music itself is unchanged. The song is simple, accompanied by video clips, some of which could have come from last night’s world newscast. The visual portion illustrates forcefully the degradation and destruction that hatred can cause but also the beauty of every human relationship found in any culture. Copyright restrictions prohibit me from including any lyrics here, but they are ever so forcefully clear, and equally applicable to people all over the world. You can find them on another YouTube offering; there you can read along as the song is sung. But all of this together is not enough; the song must be heard. It is the music that can crawl into your heart and haunt you. Music can lift a tired spirit; it invites one to hum along; soon a sense of weariness and doom is pushed aside by a grain of hope. The ugliness of so many of our daily combats that tend to depress us during the nightly news lose their edge when a melody comes along and speaks of kindness/openness/understanding and acceptance. When that melody is supported by a harmony and lyrics that together gently wrap themselves around one’s shoulder and say “Trust me; I can help,” listen to the song. God can be found in unsuspected places.