There’s the reward of creating lucrative and popular chart-topping hits, and then there’s the reward of being able to say that you’ve received the highest national honors for influencing American culture through your art. Basically, the Kennedy Center Honors are a big deal. This year’s honorees include Billy Joel, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Martina Arroyo and actress Shirley MacLaine, reports the Associated Press.
The recipients will head to the White House to be celebrated by President Barack Obama, and Secretary of State John Kerry will also host a dinner for them at the State Department.
“To be chosen for this special award essentially for doing what I love most amazes me more than anything,” said Joel.
Hancock also said he is overwhelmed “to be on that list of people whose work I’ve respected for so many years during my lifetime.”
The award recipients will be honored in a gala performance on Dec. 8, which will be broadcast on CBS on Dec. 29.