James Taylor, the singer/songwriter with deep Vineyard ties and an internationally-known voice, will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom today at the White House.

Mr. Taylor is one of 17 recipients this year to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the country. It is awarded annually to those who have made contributions to national security or interest, world peace, and cultural endeavors.

Mr. Taylor impressed Vineyard audiences as a 15-year-old. — Peter Simon

Mr. Taylor is a member of the musical Taylor family of the Vineyard; his parents, Isaac and Trudy Taylor, first came to the Vineyard in 1949. In 1963, as a 15-year-old, James Taylor performed barefoot at the old Moon-Cusser coffee house in Oak Bluffs. A Gazette article at the time reported that he was “probably the most outstanding young folksinger on the Island.”

“The general opinion of everyone who has heard and seen James perform must be that for a young boy, he is definitely talented and has quite a performing career ahead of him,” the story said.

He went on to sell more than 100 million albums, the White House noted, including the classic Sweet Baby James, which was released in 1970.

For years, Mr. Taylor owned a home on the Island and came often. He often played fundraising concerts, lending his voice to causes ranging from schools to the ice arena to rebuilding the Gannon and Benjamin Shipyard after a fire. His children Sally and Ben with former wife Carly Simon followed in their parents’ musical footsteps and often perform on the Island and are involved with the Island community.

In 1996, Mr. Taylor discreetly rehearsed for a major U.S. tour at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury.

He now calls the Berkshires home.

In a press release, the White House said Mr. Taylor’s “has touched people with his warm baritone voice and distinctive style of guitar-playing for more than 40 years, while setting a precedent to which countless young musicians have aspired.” The singer has won multiple Grammy awards, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2011 he received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.

Other Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients today will include Willie Mays, violinist Itzhak Perlman, composer Stephen Sondheim, Barbara Streisand, Senator Barbara Mikulski, and the late Yogi Berra. Steven Spielberg, who spent a well-documented summer on the Vineyard directing Jaws, will also receive the honor.