Calling him the "most successful songwriter in history," U.S. President Barack Obama presented music legend Paul McCartney with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
McCartney was one of the four original members of The Beatles, whose string of record-breaking hits revolutionized pop music in the 1960s.
After their break-up in 1970, McCartney went out on his own, performing with his band Wings and then alone. His numerous hits include such classics as "Yesterday", "Hey Jude", and "Let It Be."
"Tonight it is my distinct pleasure to present America's highest award for popular music on behalf of a grateful nation, grateful that a young Englishman shared his dreams with us. Sir Paul McCartney," said President Obama in a ceremony at the White House.
The Gershwin is named after the renowned song writers George and Ira Gershwin and was given to McCartney in appreciation of his five decades of extraordinary contributions to American music.
"It is such a fantastic evening for me," McCartney said after receving the prize. "I mean, getting this prize is good enough, but getting it from this president."
President Barack Obama presents Paul McCartney with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song at the White House.
During the evening, McCartney sang some of his most famous songs, including his opening act, "Got to Get You into My Life."
The evening also included an all-star cast of performers who sang their own versions of McCartney hits. The performers included Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Faith Hill and the Jonas Brothers.
But the highlight of the evening was clearly the guest of honor, who dedicated one of his classic hits, "Michelle," to the first lady.
At a news conference at the Library of Congress before the White House event, the former Beatle said receiving the Gershwin award is especially meaningful.
"It's fantastic for me to be here because as a little kid I grew up listening to the music of the Gershwin brothers and loved it, and had no idea of course that one day I might be in such a place getting an honor such as this."
Previous Gershwin prize winners include 23-time Grammy-Award winner Stevie Wonder and singer/songwriter Paul Simon.
McCartney says that when it comes to writing songs, not much has changed for him over the years.
"Songwriting is always a great thing for me 'cause it's a mystery. You start with a black hole and if you're lucky, a couple of hours later there'll be a song there. That mystery and that magic is still the same for me."