WASHINGTON — President Obama, saluting Carole King’s five decades as an award-winning singer-songwriter, said Wednesday that music often is a place where people seek comfort and inspiration during trying times.

“Eventually, life will go on and new memories will be made. New laughter will come. New songs will be sung,” he said during a tribute concert for King in the East Room of the White House.

“And that’s often why we turn to music during trying times, for comfort and for inspiration, and sometimes just for a good diversion.”

Calling her a “living legend,” Obama presented King with this year’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, an award given by the Library of Congress. She is the first woman so honored and joins a list of recipients that includes Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon.

“I’m honored to be recognized by the Library of Congress as the fifth recipient and first woman as has been stated,” the 71-year-old King said. “I can’t say it enough. I am so excited.”

She accepted the honor on behalf of the co-writers who worked on some of her songs, a massive portfolio that includes hits such as “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “You’ve Got a Friend.”

Several friends from King’s decades in the music business came to the White House to perform in her honor, including Gloria Estefan, Billy Joel, Jesse McCartney, Emeli Sande, James Taylor and Trisha Yearwood.

King opened the show on the piano before taking a front-row seat between Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Estefan, Yearwood and Sande followed with King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” one of her No. 1 hits. She and Taylor put their voices together on “You’ve Got a Friend” to close the concert.

Member of punk group denied parole by court

MOSCOW – A Russian court denied parole Thursday to a member of the Pussy Riot punk group.

The ruling came despite letters that singers Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel and Patti Smith have sent, urging Russia’s courts to free Maria Alekhina and the other Pussy Riot member still in prison, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

In its ruling, a court in Perm province accepted a claim by prosecutors that Alekhina had systematically disobeyed prison authorities and failed to repent for her crime, Russian media reported. Alekhina went on a hunger strike Wednesday after being barred from the hearing.