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Jeff Lynne, Blondie, Billie Eilish Set for Special Honors at ASCAP Pop Awards

A couple of disruptive women from across generations — along with the writer of “Evil Woman” — are due to get special honors at the 2019 ASCAP Pop Awards. ELO auteur Jeff Lynne and the three ongoing original members of Blondie are all set for career achievement trophies at the May ceremony, while Billie Eilish will pick up the award set aside for the most exciting newcomer.

The performing rights organization announced Thursday that these three awards will be handed out at their invitation-only dinner in Beverly Hills May 16.

Eilish, 17, will be receiving the ASCAP Vanguard Award, along with her producer/co-writer brother, Finneas. “Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell are mesmerizing the pop world with their inventive songs and sounds that speak for a new generation of music listeners,” ASCAP chairman/president (and veteran tunesmith) Paul Williams said in making the announcement. “Their music shows us how classic themes of love and desire can manifest themselves in song in endlessly fresh and compelling ways.”

Lynne will pick up the Founders Award, which Williams calls ASCAP’s “highest honor,” while Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and Clem Burke have been tagged for a different veterans’ honor, the ASCAP Golden Note Award. Blondie’s “experimentation with nearly every genre — rock, punk, reggae, rap, disco— anchored by their roots in great songwriting, is what truly sets them apart,” Williams said.

The act billed as Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Blondie are both working the touring circuit this summer.  Blondie has North American arena dates booked from June 20 through August 1, following a successful run last year that represented Lynne’s first real U.S. tour in decades. Blondie, who have remained active on the road, just announced a 13-city tour co-headlining with Elvis Costello, beginning July 20 and ending August 10.

The award for Eilish might seem premature if the sole measure was full-length albums, since the singer’s debut in that category came out less than two weeks ago. But Eilish had already established herself as a significant pop star on the  basis of a series of singles, an EP and festival appearances, with the March 29 release of the critically hailed “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” only cementing her place on the map. She is set to appear at the Coachella Festival the next two weekends.

Past winners of the Vanguard Award that’s being handed out to Eilish include Dua Lipa, St. Vincent, Migos, Portugal. The Man, Chris Stapleton, Janelle Monae, the Killers, Sara Bareilles and Kendrick Lamar.

The ASCAP Pop Awards May 16 will follow by just one night the ASCAP Screen Music Awards, with previously announced special honors for composers Michael Giacchino and Pinar Toprak and the writing team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

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