Oct. 9, 2002
Aaron Neville Named 2002 Recipient of Gibbons Medal
American gospel and blues treasure Aaron Neville will be in Washington, D.C., to receive the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal, at the 2002 CUA Alumni Awards Reception and Banquet, beginning at 7 p.m., Oct. 19, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The four-time Grammy-winning singer will be available for telephone interviews the week prior to the awards banquet; arrangements can also be made for brief interviews the day of the event. For more information contact CUA’s Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.
The Gibbons Medal is the highest honor bestowed by CUA’s Alumni Association, in recognition of individuals who have served the United States, the Catholic Church or Catholic University with great distinction. Past recipients – who are not necessarily CUA alumni – have included President John F. Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, actress Helen Hayes and theologian Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J.
“I was very surprised when I heard that I had been chosen to receive the James Cardinal Gibbons Award,” Neville said. “The history of the award itself is amazing and the fact that I was chosen as a recipient is a true honor.”
Aaron Neville, 61, is a lifelong Catholic who gained critical acclaim and worldwide popularity with songs like 1967’s “Tell It Like It Is” and his 1989 duet with Linda Ronstadt, “Don’t Know Much.” The singer has worn an earring fashioned from a St. Jude medal for the past 20 years and has included a religious-themed song on each of his albums, including hymns such as “Ave Maria” and “Jesus Loves Me.”
Neville’s records have crossed into diverse musical territories, including country, R&B, doo-wop and gospel. His awards reflect that broad range; in 1989, he and the Neville Brothers won the Best Pop Instrumental Grammy for their instrumental “Healing Chant.” He has won two Best Pop Performance Grammy for a Group or Duo awards with Linda Ronstadt for “Don’t Know Much (1989) and “All My Life” (1990). He also won the 1994 Best Country Vocal Collaboration Grammy for his work with Trisha Yearwood on the track “I Fall to Pieces.”
In 2000, his Catholic faith motivated him to record the Grammy-nominated album “Devotion,” a collection of spirituals, hymns and original songs. For that album, he recorded a duet, “There is Still a Dream,” with noted Christian vocalist Rachel Lampa, which they performed at the Catholic World Youth Day celebration held in Rome in August 2000.
When asked how his faith influenced his music, Neville answered: “I guess they influenced each other.”
“Aaron Neville’s success as a four-time Grammy Award winner and his devotion to music that touches the soul are an inspiration to many,” said the Very Rev. David M. O’Connell,
C.M., CUA president. “His faith has been and continues to be the anchor of his life’s journey through good times and bad. Aaron Neville’s music, as an expression of that faith, has made
a real difference in the world.”
The New Orleans native recently completed work on his follow-up album, a spiritual collection of songs planned for release in 2003. He also continues to tour and perform with the Neville Brothers.
Although his musical achievements played a part in his selection as the 2002 James Cardinal Gibbons Medal recipient, Neville also met criteria for the award for reasons that go beyond professional acclaim.
“I think a lot of it came down to his example,” said Emilie Deady, president of the CUA Alumni Association. “He talks about things he learned in Catholic schools. He also talks about his marriage to his wife of 43 years, which is another strong commitment. He’s in an industry that doesn’t always have the same values, and he must have done very well to have succeeded in this.”
MEDIA are welcome to attend the 2002 Alumni Awards Reception and Banquet. For more information on covering the event or arranging an interview in advance with Aaron Neville, contact Chris Harrison or Victor Nakas at 202-219-5600.