Grammy Award winners Billy Joel and Carlos Santana are two of the four musicians who will be receiving the Kennedy Center Honors this year, alongside pianist/composer Herbie Hancock and opera singer Martina Arroyo, with actress Shirley MacLaine completing the five 2013 honorees. They will be saluted in a gala performance at the Kennedy Center on December 8, to be telecast on CBS on December 29.
"To be chosen for this special award essentially for doing what I love most amazes me more than anything," the 64-year-old Joel said in a statement about the recognition. Being one of the best-selling recording artists of all time and with such great hits as "Uptown Girl", "The Longest Time" and "We Didn't Start the Fire", it was only a matter of time before his inclusion among the roster of outstanding musicians previously honored would be finalized.
However, for Santana, it was not as breezy. The Mexican-born musician's selection came after the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts complained last year that the Kennedy Center had long overlooked Latinos for the nation's highest cultural and artistic honors. Out of the past 180 honorees, so far only Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and Hispanic musical theatre artist Chita Rivera have been given the distinction.
The criticism has led to a revised selection process this year which now includes nominations from the public as well as a new committee of artists and officials. Santana, both a multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy winner, finally becomes the third Hispanic honoree after many years of being a contender.