Michael Feinstein's lifetime interest in, and immense knowledge of, the music of the Great American Songbook led him to found the organization in 2007. The organization was formerly known as the Michael Feinstein Foundation for the Preservation of the Great American Songbook and the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative. In July 2014, the Board of Directors voted to permanently change the organization's name to the Great American Songbook Foundation.
In 2009, Michael Feinstein was appointed Artistic Director of the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana. At that time, the Foundation committed to permanently locating on the Center's campus. The Great American Songbook Foundation's administrative offices and archives are located on the Gallery level of the Palladium, a 1600-seat concert hall that opened in January 2011.