Dylan First Rocker Voted Into Elite Arts Group

American Academy of Arts and Letters honors him

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Mar 12, 2013 4:11 PM CDT

(Newser) – Bob Dylan has become the first rock star voted into the elite, century-old American Academy of Arts and Letters, where artists range from Philip Roth to Jasper Johns and categories include music, literature, and visual arts. Officials couldn't decide whether he belonged for his words or for his music, so they settled on making him an honorary member, joining such previous choices as Meryl Streep, Woody Allen, and Martin Scorsese.

"The board of directors considered the diversity of his work and acknowledged his iconic place in the American culture," says executive director Virginia Dajani. "Bob Dylan is a multi-talented artist whose work so thoroughly crosses several disciplines that it defies categorization." The 71-year-old Dylan already is the first rock performer to receive a nomination from the National Book Critics Circle, for his memoir Chronicles: Volume One; and the first to receive a Pulitzer Prize, an honorary one in 2008.

Bob Dylan performs during the 17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards in Los Angeles in January.
Bob Dylan performs during the 17th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards in Los Angeles in January.   (Chris Pizzello)
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