Bob Dylan has been racking up the honors over the last decade or so from an Academy Award to the Presidential Medal of Freedom to France’s Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, but his latest honor may be the most rare and prestigious.
Dylan is the first popular music artist to be elected to the Academy of Arts and Letters, an honor society of 250 artists, architects, playwrights, authors, poets and composers. According to their website “The honor of election is considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States.” New members are only elected with the passing of one of the current members of the academy.
In the past, membership has been extended to jazz artists (Ornate Coleman is a current member) and Broadway composers (Stephen Sondheim) but never to artists/composers whose music comes from rock, folk, country, R&B or other popular music genres.
Executive Director Virginia Dajani told the AP “The board of directors considered the diversity of his work and acknowledged his iconic place in the American culture. Bob Dylan is a multi-talented artist whose work so thoroughly crosses several disciplines that it defies categorization.”
Dylan will be joining the likes of Edward Albee, Ann Beattie, Joan Dideon, E.L. Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Philip Glass, John Irving, Jasper Johns, Garrison Keillor, Harper Lee, David Mamet, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, Sam Shepard and Tom Wolfe in the Academy
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