49th Annual ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards Recognize Music Journalism On The Beatles, Big Star, Grateful Dead And More

October 12, 2017

Deems Taylor Logo
New York, Oct. 12, 2017: The legacy of music icons including The Beatles, Big Star and The Grateful Dead continues to inspire award-worthy creative works. Authors of new journalism on these artists and more were recently named as winners of the 49th annual ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/ Virgil Thomson Awards for outstanding print, broadcast and new media coverage of music.


Established in 1967 to honor the memory of composer, critic and commentator Deems Taylor, who died in 1966 after a distinguished career that included six years as President of ASCAP, The ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards are made possible by the generous support of the Virgil Thomson Foundation. Virgil Thomson (1896 – 1989) was one of the leading American composers and critics of the 20th Century, and a former member of the ASCAP Board of Directors.


The 2017 ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards recipients are as follows:


The Virgil Thomson Award for Outstanding Music Criticism in the concert music field was awarded to Lawrence Kramer for his work, The Thought of Music published by University of California Press. The book grapples with the understanding of humanity through music.


The Virgil Thomson Award for Outstanding Music Criticism in the pop music field recognizes Rob Sheffield for his book, Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World, published by HarperCollins. The book offers an entertaining, unconventional look at the Beatles, exploring what they mean today and why they still matter so intensely to a generation that has never known a world without them.


The Paul Williams “Loved the Liner Notes” Award for pop music honors Bud Scoppa for his work on the liner notes for Big Star – Complete Third, released by Omnivore Recordings. This award was established in 2016 and is funded by ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams. 

The Timothy White Award for Outstanding Musical Biography in the pop music field recognizes Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements by Bob Mehr, published by DaCapo Press. This award honors the memory of the late Tim White (1952-2002), the author of many acclaimed musical biographies and an editor in chief of Billboard magazine. 

Other book honorees include:

  • Alan Harper, for Waiting for Buddy Guy: Chicago Blues at the Crossroads published by University of Illinois Press. 
  • Edward Klorman for Mozart’s Music of Friends: Social Interplay in the Chamber Works, published by Cambridge University Press.
  • Douglas Shadle for Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth Century American Symphonic Enterprise, published by Oxford University Press.

The authors and publishers of award-winning articles include:

  • Jim Farber for his pop article “Growing Up Gay to a Glam Rock Soundtrack,” published by The New York Times. 
  • Matthew J. Jones for his concert article “Enough of Being Basely Tearful,” published by Harvard University Press.

The ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/ Virgil Thomson Television Broadcast Media/Internet Award recognizes Amir Bar-Lev, the director of Long Strange Trip, a four-hour documentary film about the rock band the Grateful Dead. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is available for streaming on Amazon Video.

The ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Radio Broadcast/Internet Award honors Jed Distler, pianist, composer, host and curator for WFFM’s Between The Keys, a radio/internet show hosting the keyboard world’s greatest luminaries for themed discussion and performances. 


The ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards Judging Panel for 2017 was comprised of ASCAP members Jonathan David, Daniel Felsenfeld, Pat Irwin and Wesley Stace. Jim Steinblatt provided professional guidance and advice.


About The ASCAP Foundation
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. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs for songwriters, composers and lyricists. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States. 


About the Virgil Thomson Foundation
The purpose of the Virgil Thomson Foundation is to further and promote the performance, preservation, dissemination and public appreciation of serious music in general and the music and writings of Virgil Thomson in particular. 

# # #


Cathy Halgas Nevins


cnevins (at) ascap.com