Lee Ann Womack Attends First Ladies Lunch, Gershwin Awards
Lee Ann Womack has been toiling away in a Nashville recording studio, working on The Way That I'm Living, her long-awaited new album. But she's taking a break today (May 9) to visit our nation's capital, where's she's been invited to participate in a pair of special events. The Jacksonville, Texas native is in Washington, D.C. this afternoon to perform at the Centennial First Ladies Luncheon at the Washington Hilton. Later tonight she'll be at the White House for the presentation of the Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize award to a pair of iconic songwriters, Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
"When you're asked by [the wife of] Congressman Green from Texas ... to help her, the collected spouses of Congress, the Supreme Court, President's Cabinet and the Vice President to help honor our First Lady, you don't say, 'Well, I'm working on a record,'" notes the singer. "To see all these people come together at a time when working together is gonna be the key to solving a lot of the issues facing our country, to me, that's a wonderful place to start."
To thank Lee Ann for her performance, a contribution is being made to the Houston-based organization Healthcare for the Homeless, which provides long-term medical care for people living on the streets or in shelters. Those who can qualify are also assisted in being integrated into more conventional forms of healthcare.
"It's amazing the work these folks do," Lee Ann explains. "Healthcare for the Homeless goes out on the streets to take medical care where people need it. They work with homeless people with serious health-related issues, and when possible, they help them find their way into the more conventional systems that have been set up to help people in need. That I can help in any way is a wonderful thing."
Tonight, Lee Ann joins the rest of the committee members at the White House for the presentation of the Library of Congress' 2012 Gershwin Prize to Bacharach and David. The Gershwin Prize is awarded in recognition of a lifetime of excellence in songcraft. Previous honorees are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.
"Look at the songs Burt Bacharach and Hal David have written," Lee Ann notes of the team whose collaborations in pop music, movie themes and musical theater include the Oscar-winning 1969 smash, "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." "They put life to song, and they make us all hum along with their melodies. I think people sometimes miss the poetry in what we hear on the radio, so I was thrilled when they asked me to participate as part of the Committee to honor people who've made this kind of contribution. With parents who taught school, I learned lots of everyday life can be poetry -- it's all how you see it."
Interestingly, one of the first hit songs written by Bacharach and David was a No. 1 country tune. "The Story of My Life" topped the country chart for Marty Robbins in 1957.
"To be able to do things like this, I am very, very blessed," Lee Ann says of her day in D.C. "Music can take you a lot of places you'd never imagine, and I try never to forget the power of what musicians, songwriters and singers do -- and how it changes the way people look at their lives.
"And it's also my personal mission," she adds, "to see Willie Nelson receive this award."
The Gershwin Prize ceremony, which will also include performances from Lyle Lovett, Diana Krall, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Arturo Sandoval and Mike Myers, among others, will be streamed live by the White House here, beginning at 7:00 PM ET on Wednesday night. The concert will air May 21 at 9:00 on PBS.