A White House spokesperson said the singer received the award for his music and activism. “The President of the United States awards Sir Elton John the National Humanities Medal for transporting us with his powerful voice and one of the most outspoken works of all time. An enduring icon and an activist of pure courage, who has challenged ideas, crushed stigma and proclaimed a simple truth: that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
The 75-year-old singer said he was “stunned” and would treasure the award. He had been invited by President and First Lady Joe and Jill Biden to perform on the White House lawn in front of 2,000 educators, nurses, lifeguards and LGBT activists and was not told what award he would receive.
John’s concert, which will air on US television later this year, has been named A Night When Hope and History Rhyme, after a poem by Irish writer Seamus Heaney. Heaney is one of Biden’s favorite poets, and the president regularly cites the Irishman’s work. He also did it in the speech he introduced John with on Friday. The president praised the singer for his commitment to the gay community and AIDS victims. “He used his voice to give others a voice,” said Biden, who thanked John on behalf of the American people.
“Bacon trailblazer. Certified coffee maven. Zombie lover. Tv specialist. Freelance communicator.”