Carole King, George Lucas feted at Kennedy Center Honors

Sun Dec 6, 2015 9:39pm EST
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By Jeff Mason and Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Singer-songwriter Carole King, Star Wars creator George Lucas and actress Cicely Tyson descended on Washington on Sunday to be feted for their contributions to the arts as the latest recipients of the coveted Kennedy Center Honors awards.

Joined by actress Rita Moreno and conductor Seiji Ozawa, the artists began a night of celebrations at the White House, where President Barack Obama lauded their accomplishments over decades.

"Tonight, we honor five artists who helped tell the story of the first American century through music, theater, and film, and by doing so, helped to shape it," he said to a room filled with stars including actress Julie Andrews, singer Usher, and film director Steven Spielberg.

The president peppered his remarks with humor and praise, noting Ozawa had ruined a career as a pianist by breaking his fingers playing rugby, only to become a great conductor.

He praised Lucas for having raised America's children thanks to the Star Wars films.

"Without him, movies would not look as good or sound as good as they do today. Spaceships might still fly around the screen with little strings attached to them," he said to laughter.

The day was overshadowed in some ways by the recent attacks in California and Paris. Obama was expected to miss the first half of the Kennedy Center performance itself to make a rare address to the nation from the Oval Office.

The artists kicked off the festivities on Saturday night at the State Department with a dinner and toasts from their friends and contemporaries.   Continued...

The 2015 Kennedy Center Honoree Carole King (L) arrives at a reception at the White House in Washington December 6, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas