By Terri Hemmert

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the five people who will receive the Kennedy Center Honors for 2013. The winners are Carlos Santana, Billy Joel, the jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, actress Shirley MacLaine, and opera singer Martina Arroyo. This is a very big deal for artists. It’s the 36th annual. Past honorees include Buddy Guy, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend & Roger Daltry, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, Tina Turner, Elton John, James Brown, Paul Simon, Chuck Berry, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Pete Seeger, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Leonard Bernstein, Ella Fitzgerald….OK….who wouldn’t want to be on that list. Amazing. It’s one of the highest cultural and artistic honors you can receive in this country. There will be a gala performance at the Kennedy Center on December 8th. It will be broadcast on CBS December 29th.

There has been some concern about the lack of Latinos on this list in the past. Arroyo and Santana is a good start.

Congratulations to them all.

I was having a lovely chat with Mavis Staples before she took the stage last weekend at the Hideout Block Party. I was reflecting on what a lucky person I am to get an email from Mavis and a phone call from Paul McCartney in one week. Mavis was remembering singing for Sir Paul when he received his Kennedy Center Honor. Here is the video. I love how when James Taylor introduces Mavis Staples you can see the First Lady of the United States Of America say “Oh My God.” Exactly. And she’s sitting next to Paul and listening to Mavis. Wow. Watch Paul’s face while he’s taking it all in. It’s beautiful.


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