Recipients to be honored at the 33rd annual national celebration of the arts include singer and songwriter Merle Haggard; composer and lyricist Jerry Herman; dancer, choreographer and director Bill T. Jones; songwriter and musician Paul McCartney; and producer, television host and actress Oprah Winfrey.
The Kennedy Center Honors medallions will be presented Dec. 4 at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. The Kennedy Center Honors gala will take place Dec. 5 and will be broadcast nationwide on CBS on Dec. 28. (The President and Mrs. Obama will receive the Honorees and members of the Artists Committee who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala performance.)
In a statement Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said, "The Kennedy Center celebrates five individuals who have spent their lives enriching, inspiring and elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world. The honesty of Merle Haggard’s music and poetic lyrics has helped to shape the world of country music for nearly five decades. Jerry Herman’s musicals rank him in the pantheon of Broadway’s Golden Age and will keep audiences humming along for generations to come. The inventive style and imaginative artistry of Bill T. Jones has had an invaluable impact on the varied landscapes of dance and theater. Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most influential and successful songwriters and musicians of all time, whose work has continuously altered both the creation and perception of music all over the world. For more than 25 years, Oprah Winfrey has established one of the most innovative careers in the entertainment world, with distinctive accomplishments in television and film."
One of the theatre's most celebrated composers, Jerry Herman has written the scores for such Broadway musicals as Milk and Honey; Hello, Dolly!; Mame; Dear World; Mack & Mabel; The Grand Tour and La Cage aux Folles. He also contributed songs to A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, and revues of his work include Jerry's Girls and An Evening with Jerry Herman. The songwriter won Tony Awards for his scores for Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles.
Bill T. Jones is the recipient of two Tony Awards: for his choreography of Fela! and his choreography of Spring Awakening. Last year's honorees included writer, composer, actor, director and producer Mel Brooks; pianist and composer Dave Brubeck; opera singer Grace Bumbry; actor, director, and producer Robert De Niro; and singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen.
For more information about the Kennedy Center Honorees or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, visit www.kennedy-center.org.