Yep, the Hank Williams, that legendary icon of country and Western music; revered as one of the greatest country music artists in history, is now a Pulitzer Prize winner.
Well-l-l, not exactly a Pulitzer Prize winner. But he did receive a posthumous Special Citation for his lifetime achievement as a musician. On Monday, April 12, 2010, during the annual luncheon at which the Pulitzer Prize winners are announced, the Pulitzer Prize Board at Columbia University awarded Williams the Special Citation.
According to a Columbia University press release, Williams is praised in the citation for “his craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life.”
Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, said that the citation “recognizes the lasting impact of Williams as a creative force that influenced a wide range of other musicians and performers.”
Yesterday I completed an article from the Associated Content assignment desk, entitled The Top 10 Pulitzer Prize for History Books of All Time. I had spent about four days researching this article, using the Pulitzer Prize official web site as my primary source of information. While doing my research, I came across the citation honoring Hank Williams.
This is actually a significant change for the Pulitzer Prize Board. Never before, since the inception of the Pulitzer Prizes in 1917, has country music or a country music artist been recognized by the Pulitzer board, even though this genre of music, along with jazz, perhaps most closely reflects the American culture. Recognition for outstanding achievement in the field of music has always been limited to jazz and classical music.
2010 PULITZER PRIZES ANNOUNCED
At the same luncheon, the 2010 Pulitzer Prizes were announced. You may view the complete list of 2010 winners by clicking here. You may view a list of all past winners and finalists by clicking here.
THE PULITZER PRIZES
The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious awards given in the United States for journalistic, literary and artistic excellence. They are named for their great benefactor, Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911), a nineteenth century Hungarian-born immigrant to the United States, who became the most powerful and influential newspaper publisher of his time. In his 1904 will, Pulitzer provided for the establishment of prizes for excellence in journalism, letters, and drama.
Pulitzer specified a board of overseers (now called the Pulitzer Prize Board) to administer the awards. The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded in 1917; only eight categories existed then, four in journalism and four in letters. Now, nearly a century later, the awards have been expanded to 21 categories (14 for Journalism and 7 for Letters, Drama, and Music).
Since 1922, the field of journalism has been expanded to include editorial writing and cartooning; telegraphic reporting; feature writing; and journalistic photography. The most significant recent change to the journalism awards came in 1999 when online reporting was considered for the first time. The field of letters has also been expanded to include poetry, music, and general non-fiction. Anyone can enter their work into the annual Pulitzer competition. Juries of distinguished writers and journalists select winners and finalists from thousands of entrants.
Who knows… Maybe some talented Associated Content contributor has a Pulitzer Prize in their future after all!
The Pulitzer Prizes (the official web site)