Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel were among the musical stars honoured by Ascap (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) in New York.
The singers received Ascap’s Centennial Award for the “incomparable accomplishments” in their careers.
Garth Brooks, Joan Baez and composer Stephen Sondheim were also honoured with the accolade.
The awards were part of a gala celebration on Monday marking the organisation’s 100th anniversary.
Joan Baez received her award from country singer Emmylou Harris
Garth Brooks was teary-eyed after his wife, Tricia Yearwood, performed one of his songs on stage in tribute
Motown founder Berry Gordy presented Wonder with his award and paid tribute to the singer.
Instead of making positive comments – because he said he had repeatedly done so at previous events – Gordy joked with the audience about some of Wonder’s “flaws”, such as being a “lousy driver”, adding his “golf game sucks”.
The gala also featured performances of award winners’ songs by other singers.
Sting sang Joel’s Big Man on Mulberry Street, with country singer Emmylou Harris giving a rendition of Baez’s Diamond and Rust.
Tricia Yearwood also performed her husband Brooks’ hit If Tomorrow Never Comes.
Sondheim did not attend the ceremony due to illness. Stage actress Bernadette Peters paid tribute to the composer, singing Children Will Listen from Into the Woods.