The 36th annual Kennedy Center Honors will fete actress Shirley MacLaine, pianist/singer/songwriter Billy Joel, musician/songwriter Carlos Santana, opera singer Martina Arroyo, and pianist/band leader/composer Herbie Hancock, CBS announced this morning. The annual event at Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has been broadcast on CBS every year since its debut 36 years ago; this year’s broadcast will air Sunday, December 29, from 9-11 PM. From today’s announcement:

“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 of 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 during 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 dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures or television – and are selected by the Center’s Board of Trustees.

George Stevens, Jr. and his Honors producing partner Michael Stevens will again produce and write the Honors. They have received four consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Variety, Musical or Comedy Special. The KENNEDY CENTER HONORS telecast has also been recognized with the Peabody Award for Outstanding Meritorious Service to Broadcasting and seven awards from the Writers Guild of America. George Stevens created the Honors in 1978 with Nick Vanoff.

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