The ASCAP Foundation honored singer-songwriter Ne-Yo with its Champion Award at its 18th annual Awards Ceremony Wednesday evening (Dec. 11) at the Allen Room of the Frederick J. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Tony Award-winning lyricist and director of Annie Martin Charnin (Annie) received the inaugural George M. Cohan Award at the event, which also honored a wide range of scholarship and award recipients, all of whom benefit from ASCAP Foundation programs.
Ne-Yo was presented the Champion Award in recognition of his leadership in efforts to increase awareness of disadvantaged children in American cities. His Compound Foundation, established in 2007, aids young people growing up in foster care and group homes by helping them forge healthy relationships, pursue education and training and learn entrepreneurship.
Previous recipients of the Champion Award include Tony Bennett and Susan Bennedetto, Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, Billy Joel, John Mellencamp and Jason Mraz.
“Not only is Ne-Yo a brilliant and wildly successful songwriter and performer, his tireless efforts to enhance the futures of today’s youth make him a true inspiration,” said ASCAP Foundation president Paul Williams, who hosted the event.
“Though he’s only 31-years-old–making him the youngest ever recipient of this award–he has already achieved a great deal as a songwriter, recording artist, producer, actor and philanthropist. We’re honored to celebrate Ne-Yo with this year’s ASCAP Foundation Champion Award.”
Charnin’s inaugural George M. Cohan Award was made possible by the Friars Foundation. It is presented to an individual connected to the music industry who’s achieved success in a variety of roles, including, but not limited to, composing, performing, writing, directing and producing.
Williams cited the Friars Foundation among other new donors establishing ASCAP Foundation programs and including The Phoebe Jacobs Prize, The Composition Scholarship in Honor of Tania Leon, The Johnny Mandel Prize, The Jerry Ragovoy Award, The Betty Rose Scholarship and The Jack and Lucille Yellen Award.
“They’re giving [young music creators] the same opportunity that I had, to ensure that young award winners can make a living,” said Williams.
The ASCAP Foundation president also noted the centennial observances this year of ASCAP legends Sammy Cahn, his collaborator Jimmy Van Heusen, Morton Gould and the Shapiro Bernstein publishing house, as well as ASCAP’s own 100th anniversary early next year.
And in keeping with his traditionally humorous opening remarks, Williams assured those in the back that they really weren’t as far away from the stage as it seemed.
“The reason it seems so far back is that I’m just not that tall!” joked Williams.
Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs, including songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs for songwriters, composers and lyricists. It is supported by contributions from ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) members and from music lovers throughout the U.S.
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