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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Paul McCartney said on Tuesday he was honored to be receiving one of the United States' most important music awards, the Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
To mark the occasion, a lineup of stars including Stevie Wonder, the Jonas Brothers, Herbie Hancock and Elvis Costello will pay tribute to the former Beatle in a concert at the White House on Wednesday presided over by President Barack Obama.
McCartney is the first non-American recipient of the award that has only been given twice before -- to Paul Simon in 2007 and to Stevie Wonder in 2009.
"It's fantastic for me to be here because as a little kid I grew up listening to the music of the Gershwin Brothers and loved it and had no idea, of course, that one day I might be in such a place, getting an honor such as this," McCartney told a news conference in Washington on Tuesday.
"I wouldn't have believed you if you told me as a kid growing up in Liverpool that this would happen. So it's very special for me."
The award created by the Library of Congress celebrates McCartney's music career that spans over five decades from his years with The Beatles to his current solo output.
It was named to honor the American songwriting team of brothers George and Ira Gershwin and "recognizes musicians whose careers reflect a lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of artistic expression and cultural understanding."
McCartney, who turns 68 later this month, will also perform at the concert on Wednesday which will be televised on July 28.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington described McCartney's career as spanning genres ranging from rock and roll to classical.
"But he also has made an impact far beyond music through his humanitarianism and activism around the world," Billington said in a statement.
Reporting by Reuters Television, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith