March 21, 2023
Bruce Springsteen was among nearly a dozen artists and organizations who accepted a National Medal of Arts on Tuesday, joining a select group of musicians and cultural icons who have received the nation's highest accolade for artistic achievement.
The Boss, who has been on tour with the E Street Band since the beginning of February, stopped in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday afternoon to meet with President Joe Biden and receive the coveted arts and culture award alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mindy Kaling, Vera Wang and Gladys Knight. He will return to D.C. on Monday for a concert at the Capital One Arena.
"The National Medal of Arts recipients have helped to define and enrich our nation's cultural legacy through their life long passionate commitment," said Maria Rosario Jackson, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. "We are a better nation because of their contributions. Their work helps us to see the world in different ways. It inspires us to reach our full potential and recognize our common humanity."
Largely considered one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Springsteen has an extensive musical catalog with 21 studio albums, 23 live albums, 77 singles and 63 music videos. He has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists in music history, PAPER reported.
His five-decade career has been defined by his songwriting prowess, connecting listeners across multiple generations with music that "celebrates our triumphs, heals our wounds, and gives us hope, capturing the unyielding spirit of what it means to be American," the NEA said.
The New Jersey native has been cited as one of the pioneers of heartland rock, an "all-American sound" that took off in the 1970s and 1980s, seeking to capture American hardship and working class struggle by using simple chords and catchy lyrics to connect with listeners across all parts of the country.
Springsteen's 1984 album "Born in the U.S.A," which is the performer's most popular album with more than 30 million copies sold worldwide, is one of the most influential heartland rock albums, inspiring fellow artists like John Mellencamp and Bob Seger, The New York Times reported.
Springsteen has been steadily releasing music for 50 years, beginning with his debut album "Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J." in 1973. He celebrated the 50th anniversary of his debut with a special tribute video in January.
"As an artist, Bruce was just starting to develop his signature style. But the album shows that he already had many of the pieces in place.” - Columbia Records Promo Letter, 1973— Bruce Springsteen (@springsteen) January 5, 2023
Celebrating 50 years of Springsteen’s debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. #Greetings50 pic.twitter.com/5ELmg4as3r
The National Medal of Arts is just one of several national accolades that The Boss has received throughout his career. In 2009, he was celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors with tribute performances by Sting, Eddie Vedder, Melissa Etheridge, Ben Harper and Mellencamp.
In 2016, former President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, for songs that "capture the pain and promise of the American experience" through the eyes of ordinary people, Vietnam veterans and steel workers.
The National Medal of Arts has been given out to artists and cultural organizations since 1984. The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, located in Center City, received the national award in 2005. The latest group of recipients was initially meant to be honored last year, though the ceremony was postponed due to concerns over COVID-19.
Most recently, Elton John received the National Humanities Medal after performing at the White House in September. A White House officer called John an "enduring icon and advocate with absolute courage, who found purpose to challenge convention, shatter stigma and advance a simple truth: that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect," Variety reported.
Biden will present recipients of the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal with their awards during Tuesday's ceremony, which is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. Fans can stream the ceremony below.