WASHINGTON - BBC - US singer-songwriter Carole King has become the first woman to be awarded the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

US President Barack Obama presented King with the honour, which celebrates a lifetime achievement in popular music, at the White House in Washington.

King, 71, who is best known for penning hit songs such as Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, was called a “living legend” by Obama. Several stars performed in her honour, including British singer Emeli Sande.

Grammy-award winner Gloria Estefan, American singer Billy Joel, and James Taylor, who had his first number one single with a recording of King’s You’ve Got a Friend, also attended the event.

“I can’t say it enough. I am so excited,” King said. The four-time Grammy winner co-wrote her first number one hit in 1960 aged 17 with Will You Love Me Tomorrow, recorded by The Shirelles.