Recipients to be honored at the 36th annual national celebration of the arts are opera singer Martina Arroyo; pianist, keyboardist, bandleader and composer Herbie Hancock; pianist, singer and songwriter Billy Joel; actress Shirley MacLaine; and musician and songwriter Carlos Santana.
“The Kennedy Center celebrates five extraordinary individuals who have spent their lives elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world,” said Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein in a statement. “Martina Arroyo has dazzled the world with her glorious soprano voice and continues to share her artistry with a new generation of opera singers; Herbie Hancock has established himself as one of the most innovative musicians in the world, constantly breaking musical barriers and redefining the art of jazz; Billy Joel’s melodies have provided the soundtrack of our lives for over four decades making him one pop music’s most prolific and memorable singers and songwriters; the remarkable breadth and range of Shirley MacLaine’s acting has left an indelible impression over a nearly 60-year career on stage and screen; from his legendary performance at Woodstock to his sweep at the 2000 Grammys and beyond, Carlos Santana’s artistry transcends genres while entertaining millions.”
On Dec. 8 in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, produced by George Stevens, Jr. and Michael Stevens, the 2013 Honorees will be saluted by great performers from New York, Hollywood and the arts capitals of the world. Seated with the President of the United States and Mrs. Obama, the Honorees will accept the thanks of their peers through performances and tributes.
The Kennedy Center Honors medallions will be presented Dec. 7, the night before the gala, at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry.
The Honors recipients recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts—whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television—are selected by the Executive Committee of the Center’s Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is "excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines."