Bob Dylan is the first rocker accepted into the American Academy of Arts… (Chris Pizzello / Associated…)
Bob Dylan has become the first rock musician inducted into the New York-based American Academy of Arts and Letters, an elite group of composers, artists, authors and architects that the group describes as “the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States.”
"The board of directors considered the diversity of his work and acknowledged his iconic place in the American culture," the academy's executive director, Virginia Dajani, told the Associated Press. “Bob Dylan is a multi-talented artist whose work so thoroughly crosses several disciplines that it defies categorization."
The 115-year-old academy, whose inaugural class of honorees included Mark Twain, has selected Dylan both for his musical and his lyrical achievements. He joins current members including Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Meryl Streep among popular entertainers voted into the body, which has a fixed membership of 250, who are elected for life, and pay no dues. New members are voted in when an existing member dies, and only current members can nominate and elect new members.
Current members include writers Robert Bly, Harold Bloom, Ann Beattie, E.L. Doctorow, artists Christo, Mary Frank, Mark di Suvero, John Baldessari, Frank Gehry and Maya Lin and musicians Philip Glass, John Corigliano, Stephen Sondheim and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. The member of longest standing is New York poet Richard Wilbur, elected in 1957.
One prerequisite of election to the academy is the honoree’s acceptance of membership, a condition Dylan reportedly has accepted. But it is unknown whether he will attend the academy’s awards dinner in April or the induction ceremony in May. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon is the keynote speaker at the induction ceremony and is scheduled to give a talk titled “Rock and Roll.”
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