The United States celebrated the careers of five extraordinary artists as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts honored Martina Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine, and 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.
"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."
The Honors recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts—whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television. They 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.
The annual Honors Gala has become the highlight of the Washington cultural year. On Sunday evening a star-studded celebration took place on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage. Produced by George Stevens, Jr. and Michael Stevens, the 2013 Honorees were 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 accepted the thanks of their peers through performances and tributes.
Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser expressed the Center's continued gratitude to the many individuals involved in the success of the Honors program. "In addition to recognizing some of the world's most treasured artists, the Kennedy Center Honors supports a wide variety of artistic programming, as well as the Center's educational and national outreach efforts."