Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine feted at Kennedy Center Honors

Sun Dec 8, 2013 11:39pm EST
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By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With notes of rock, jazz and opera, Washington feted piano man Billy Joel, actress Shirley MacLaine and guitarist Carlos Santana on Sunday at the Kennedy Center Honors, the capital's annual celebration of the arts.

Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock and opera singer Martina Arroyo rounded out the list of honorees at the country's prestigious awards ceremony for stars of the stage, screen and concert hall.

"The diverse group of extraordinary individuals we honor today haven't just proven themselves to be the best of the best," President Barack Obama said at a White House ceremony before the show.

"Despite all their success, all their fame, they've remained true to themselves - and inspired the rest of us to do the same."

The evening started with a tribute to Santana, a 10-time Grammy winner originally from Mexico.

Singer Harry Belafonte, himself a Kennedy Center honoree, joked that he was a victim of the Latino musician's greatness, saying he thought Santana got his spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"We should've built a bigger fence," he deadpanned, referring to the debate in Washington about immigration reform and border security with Mexico.

"The Latino thing has arrived. It has become the new black. And now Carlos is a citizen of the world."   Continued...

Carlos Santana (L) and fellow 2013 Kennedy Center Honors recipient Shirley MacLaine react to remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama (not pictured) during a reception at the White House in Washington December 8, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst