The Marian Anderson Award this year will go to Jon Bon Jovi.
The annual award — given to an artist to acknowledge his or her humanitarian work — has honored actors, writers, music producers, even a comedian, but never a rock star.
In addition to contributing “Living on a Prayer” to the American rock canon, Bon Jovi has been actively fighting homelessness with his national charitable organization, the Philadelphia-based Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.
“He’s done a tremendous job to combat homelessness, working with Project HOME here,” said Nina Tinari, the award board chairwoman. “It’s very exciting for us to honor someone who has done a lot of work in the city of Philadelphia.”
The award is given to artist of excellence who is also committed to humanitarian efforts, much like Marian Anderson, the first African-American to sing with the Metropolitan Opera. During her 40-year career, the native of Philadelphia overcame significant discrimination and helped others do the same.
The award will be presented to Bon Jovi, a resident of Middletown, New Jersey, during a dinner and concert Nov. 18.
However, Marian Anderson Award honorees never perform at their own event, so Jon Bon Jovi will not be going down in a blaze of glory.