Broadcasting Students Help Produce 30th Annual American Eagle Awards Show Honoring Judy Collins, Sonny Fox, Paul Shaffer and Theodore Bikel

Left to right, American Eagle Award winners Judy Collins, Theodore Bikel, Paul Shaffer, and Montclair State University Professor David Sanders, who's also the director of the National Music Council, which bestows the American Eagle Award.

Music legends Judy Collins, Paul Shaffer, and Theodore Bikel were honored by the National Music Council (NMC) at a symposium and luncheon event produced by Montclair State Professor David Sanders, with help from students in the Broadcasting program, at New York City’s Hard Rock Café on Tuesday, November 27.  The coveted American Eagle Award is presented annually to celebrate an individual’s long-term contribution to the nation’s musical culture and heritage.  This year’s affair was the 30th anniversary celebration of the awards.

The presentations included tributes to the honorees by a host of musical greats including Ben E. King, Martha Wash, Merima Kljuço, Sheldon Harnick and Peter Yarrow. The Council's annual Leadership in Music Symposium preceded the awards and featured interviews with the honorees. Additional awards were given to children’s television icon Sonny Fox for his lifetime support of music and arts access for children, and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store for its active support of country music for more than 40 years.

Fifteen of the University's Broadcasting students participated in the event production, with several having the opportunity to conduct on-camera interviews with the honorees, presenters and performers. Excerpts of the event will be webcast in March as part of the Council’s Music in Our Schools month activities.  

Dr. Sanders, director of the NMC, noted that the individual recipients were being honored, “not just for the incredible gifts they have given generations of music lovers throughout the world with their creative output… but also for their dedication to encouraging young musicians – and potential musicians – through their great support and commitment to music education.”

The event also debuted an animation produced by Sanders for the NMC and Music Publishers Association of the United States as part of a primary school lesson plan that encourages kids to think about the ramifications of taking other people’s creative work. Sanders introduced the work as “part of a world-wide effort by creators to change the narrative in terms of fostering an understanding that the online protection of creative work enhances freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas, rather than encroaching on them.“                         

Past American Eagle Award recipients include Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Clive Davis, Van Cliburn, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Morton Gould, Dave Brubeck, Marian Anderson, Max Roach, Lena Horne, Roy Clark, Elliott Carter, Roberta Peters, Odetta, Leonard Slatkin, Stephen Sondheim, Sesame Street, Peter Yarrow, Hard Rock Café and VH1 Save the Music Foundation.


Through the cooperative work of its member organizations, the NMC promotes and supports music and music education as an integral part of the curricula in the schools of this nation, and in the lives of its citizens. The Council provides for the exchange of information and coordination of efforts among its member organizations and speaks with one voice for the music community whenever an authoritative expression of opinion is desirable.

The National Music Council is celebrating its 72nd Anniversary as a forum for the free discussion of this country’s national music affairs and challenges. Founded in 1940 to act as a clearinghouse for the joint opinion and decision of its members and to work to strengthen the importance of music in American life and culture, the Council’s initial membership of 13 has grown to almost 50 national music organizations, encompassing every important form of professional and commercial musical activity.

Proceeds from the event support the Council’s music and arts education advocacy efforts.