George Lucas, actresses Rita Moreno and Cicely Tyson, singer Carole King, music director Seiji Ozawa and the Eagles will receive this year’s Kennedy Center Honors.
The John F. Kennedy Center exceeded the usual five honorees and announced Wednesday it will honor the diverse group of six in a gala performance December 6 in Washington D.C., featuring top entertainers.
For the 38th annual celebration, organizers said they didn't want to pass up the chance to honor any of these artists with the national award for influencing American culture through the arts.
The Kennedy Center Honors were criticized in 2012 for not honoring enough Latino artists, and after that formed a committee of artists and community leaders to review the process of picking honorees.
The show will also be broadcast December 29 on CBS.
Here's a look at this year's honorees:
George Lucas, 71, known for creating the "Star Wars" franchise and Indiana Jones of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" fame, said, “The honorees over the history of the awards are huge, and it’s great to be in the same company.”
Rita Moreno, 83, has starred in more than 40 feature films and won all four of the biggest prizes in show business -- the Oscar, the Tony, two Emmys and a Grammy. “You are reminded that no one is completely self-made,'' Moreno said. “I am just absolutely beside myself with the recognition that I'm getting, I guess, for battling it out and hanging on.”
Cicely Tyson, 81, is known for her roles in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” “Roots” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” and said she was speechless and breathless when she heard she would be receiving “the highest honor given to a performer.”
Carole King, 73, was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame for her defining sounds of the 60’s and 70’s. “I'm humbled and grateful to accept,'' she said in a statement. "I've been very lucky to be able to do the work I love for so many years. And it's even more rewarding to know that what I do has touched the lives of so many people.''
The Eagles have sold more than 120 million albums worldwide with their Southern California sound and become one of the most influential American rock bands of all time, according to Kennedy Center producers. In a joint statement, the band members said they were "deeply grateful'' for the honor.
Seiji Ozawa, 79, is a classical music celebrity who was the music director of the Boston Symphony for 29 years until 2002. “Big names.” I feel very honored that they are going to give it to me,'' he said. "I'm super happy.''