And you know what made it different this time is that they put a ballot on their website for the first time....really weighing in public opinion!
Very exciting! Can't wait to see this aired in December! xoxo
Deepest heartfelt congratulations, Shirley!
It still hasn't quite sunk in yet. This is a bit like being a kid and wanting something really badly, writing it at the top of your wishlist to Santa and - miracle of miracles - getting it first thing on Christmas morning.
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — When Herbie Hancock learned he was one of the five artists to be honored this year by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the surprise, he said, brought him to the verge of tears. “And that doesn’t happen to me very often.” “To think that they would put me on the list with people I have loved and respected for so many years, it’s shocking,” said Mr. Hancock, a 73-year-old master jazz pianist who has won 14 Grammys and an Oscar. “It was like a dream, hard to believe and humbling.”
The musicians Billy Joel and Carlos Santana, the actress Shirley MacLaine and the soprano Martina Arroyo will also receive the 36th honors medal in December, the Kennedy Center announced Thursday.
The annual award is presented for lifetime contributions to American culture in dance, music, theater, opera, Film or television. David M. Rubenstein, the Kennedy Center chairman, said the honorees “have spent their lives elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world.”
This class of recipients is the first since the Kennedy Center revamped its selection process this year, in response to criticism that the process lacked transparency and had yielded only two Latino winners.
The medals will be presented at a dinner at the State Department on Dec. 7, followed the next day by a reception at the White House and tribute performances at the Kennedy Center. The performances will be taped and broadcast on Dec. 29 on CBS.
“It’s better than Fourth of July, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s,” said Mr. Santana, 66, who is receiving the award 50 years after he arrived in San Francisco from Tijuana, Mexico.
He made a name for himself in the Bay Area at a time, he said, when it was “ground zero for the consciousness revolution.” But he shot to fame after his band performed at the Woodstock concert in 1969. Since then, he has racked up 10 Grammys and sold more than 100 million records with music that blends Afro-Cuban styles with blues, jazz and rock.
Ms. MacLaine, 79, has won an Oscar, several Golden Globes and a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute for a career full of notable performances in films like “The Apartment” in 1960 and “Terms of Endearment” in 1983. But the Kennedy Center medal, she said, is special recognition.
“The others are for a part you did or for how you interpreted a character, but this is about how you’ve interpreted yourself,” she said.
Mr. Joel’s lyricism and piano skills earned him the nickname “Piano Man” — the title of his signature song — as he churned out decades of hits like the singles “Allentown” and “Only the Good Die Young.” Mr. Joel, 64, said in a statement that he was honored to be among an “illustrious roster of outstanding musicians.”
Mr. Hancock pushed jazz into the electronic age and fused it with funk, hip-hop and pop.
Ms. Arroyo, 76, pursued opera against her mother’s urgings to find a more practical skill. She became a star in 1965 after she replaced Birgit Nilsson in a production of “Aida” and has performed around the world.
Before Ms. Arroyo and Mr. Santana, the actress Chita Rivera and the opera star Plácido Domingo were the only Latinos among 185 artists who had received the award since it was created in 1978 with a single criterion: excellence.
After an internal review, the Kennedy Center expanded its artists’ committee, which picks the nominees, and began accepting recommendations from the public. It also created a committee that includes two previous winners, Ms. Rivera and the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, to narrow the list of nominees for the Kennedy Center board, which makes the final decisions.
By ASHLEY SOUTHALL
The Associated Press
Shirley MacLaine to be feted at Kennedy Center Honors, along with Billy Joel, Carlos Santana, others
The Associated Press
on September 12, 2013 at 2:27 PM, updated September 12, 2013 at 2:37 PM
WASHINGTON -- Acclaimed actress Shirley MacLaine and four musicians spanning rock, jazz and opera -- Billy Joel, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock and Martina Arroyo -- will receive this year's Kennedy Center Honors, considered the nation's highest honor for those who influence American culture through the arts.
The honorees were announced Thursday. In December, President Barack Obama will host the recipients at the White House, and Secretary of State John Kerry will host a dinner for them at the State Department. Top entertainers will salute the honorees in a gala performance Dec. 8 to be broadcast Dec. 29 on CBS.
In an interview, Santana said he was very grateful and happy to be in the company of luminaries and to receive an award he remembers watching almost every year with his family. The 66-year-old musician who was born in a small, remote town in Mexico and immigrated with his family to San Francisco said he set out to bridge cultures and music styles.
"I guess people understand that Santana is not just a Mexican guitar player -- I bring a collective-consciousness awareness agenda with me," he said. "I grew up with the generation of Woodstock and Bob Marley, 'One Love,' and 'Imagine,' John Lennon. I am one of them, and we don't do what we do to be commercial or to be popular or to be cute. It's not entertainment or show business for us. For us, it's a calling."
As a Mexican immigrant, Santana is unique among those who have received the cultural prize. Last year, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts complained the Kennedy Center had long excluded Latinos. Of the more than 180 past honorees, only two have been Hispanic, the group said.
The criticism led to a revised selection process this year, including the solicitation of nominations from the public, and a new committee of artists and officials helped narrow the potential honorees.
Santana, who swept the 2000 Grammy Awards in nine categories with his album "Supernatural," said more mainstream institutions should be recognizing Latino artists.
"Piano Man" Billy Joel, one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, said he was honored to be named a Kennedy Center honoree. Joel, the pianist, singer and songwriter behind numerous unforgettable hits, including "Uptown Girl," ''Allentown" and "We Didn't Start the Fire," has devoted his life to music.
In a written statement, he said he was honored to join the roster of outstanding musicians who came before. "But to be chosen for this special award essentially for doing what I love most amazes me more than anything," he said.
For MacLaine, the honors almost feel like a homecoming, she said. The 79-year-old actress grew up in nearby Arlington, Va., and attended ballet lessons almost every day from the time she was 10 in nearby Georgetown. She said she has played her cello at the Kennedy Center in the past. The cultural prize, though, stands apart from other awards, she said.
"It's a more global kind of recognition ... not just Hollywood or New York," she told The Associated Press. "The people who get these awards are contributing to the world's art, and I feel privileged to be one of them."
After nearly 60 years as one of Hollywood's leading actresses, MacLaine hasn't stopped. She began this year with a role in the popular "Downton Abbey" on PBS and will close the year with her latest film, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," alongside Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig. Last year, she was in New Orleans to shoot the independent romantic comedy "Fred & Elsa" with Christopher Plummer.
Hancock, born in Chicago, became a classical music prodigy after his parents bought him a piano as a boy, and he played with the Chicago Symphony by the age of 11. In high school, he discovered jazz, however, and began learning by listening.
"The more I looked into it, the more it pulled me like a magnet," he said. "And I was hooked forever."
In 1963, Hancock joined the Miles Davis Quintet, one of the great jazz ensembles. He has gone on to embrace electronic music and to collaborate with the likes of Annie Lennox, John Mayer, Christina Aguilera and others.
Hancock, 73, said he is overwhelmed to join the ranks of Kennedy Center honorees, "to be on that list of people whose work I've respected for so many years during my lifetime."
Arroyo, born and raised in Harlem as the daughter of a Puerto Rican father and an African-American mother, said her voice was discovered by accident in high school when she was heard imitating the singers outside an opera workshop. She went on to star in the great opera houses in Paris, London, Vienna and beyond.
Arroyo made her debut at Carnegie Hall in 1958 and had her breakthrough with the Metropolitan Opera when she was called at the last minute to replace Birgit Nilsson in "Aida" in 1965. She went on to perform 199 times at the Metropolitan Opera, performing all the major Verdi roles, as well as roles from Mozart, Puccini and others.
Still, Arroyo, 76, said she is most proud of her work teaching young students about character study in opera.
Receiving the Kennedy Center Honors, she said, was unimaginable.
"We go around the world singing, and people say oh, there's an American singer. But this is your government saying, yeah, we like you, too," she said. "There's no higher group for me than my country. That makes it extremely special."
Note: Brett Zongker of The Associated Press wrote this story.
P.S. and the full caption to the attached photo reads:
"Shirley MacLaine, whose film career includes going almost"Around the World in 80 Days" at the Uptown, paid a visit yesterday to her old dancing school, the Washington School of the Ballet, where she laid the cornerstone of the new studio for the Washington Ballet Guild. Here's Shirley, daughter of Arlington realtor Ira O. Beaty, enjoying a foot trick by Mimi Paul, now a pupil of her onetime mentors, Lisa Gardiner and Mary Day, at the Wisconsin Ave. school."
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