Van Morrison to get Freedom of Belfast
EAST Belfast's legendary singer-songwriter Van Morrison is set to receive the Freedom of the city.
The 68-year-old is expected to receive the highest honour Belfast City Council can bestow when it is agreed at a full council meeting next month.
In a letter written to the council's chief executive Peter McNancy, former Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson proposed the move and said he could "think of no better individual, who poetically paints a majestic vision of the area I live, love and have the privilege to represent, to receive the honour of freedom."
It is expected that all 51 elected representatives will back the proposal when the council meets on September 2. The most recent to receive the accolade was Olympic gold medallist Mary Peters in May this year and previous recipients include poet John Hewitt, painter John Lavery and former prime minister Winston Churchill.
Known to his fans as 'Van the Man', Morrison has taken inspiration from his home city for a number of songs on albums which have sold millions worldwide, including Cyprus Avenue and On Hyndford Street.
Morrison has received considerable acclaim, including six Grammy Awards, the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, being inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and appearing on several "Greatest Artists" lists.
Despite his achievements, Morrison has not forgotten his working-class roots and has continued to play intimate gigs across Northern Ireland – most recently at Dunluce Castle, a medieval ruin on the north Antrim coast, this summer. Last year he headlined the community-run East Belfast Arts Festival.