September 10, 2008 / 1:10 AM / in 10 years

Streisand, Freeman, the Who among Kennedy honorees

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Singer-actress Barbra Streisand, who performs for Barack Obama at a Hollywood fundraiser next week, will herself be feted in the U.S. capital later this year for her contributions to American culture and the arts.

Barbra Streisand performs on the stage in Berlin June 30, 2007. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

Streisand joins actor Morgan Freeman, dancer-choreographer Twyla Tharp, country music singer George Jones and British rockers Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of the Who as the 2008 recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, organizers said on Tuesday.

Honorees for the 31st annual awards will be saluted on December 7 during a gala at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, attended by President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush. The president will receive the honorees earlier that evening at the White House.

CBS will broadcast the event, which has become a highlight of Washington’s cultural calendar, later in the month as a two-hour special.

“With their extraordinary genius and tenacity, the 2008 honorees have redefined the way we see, hear and feel the performing arts,” Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen Schwarzman said in a statement.

Streisand, 66, has blazed an extraordinary trail through music, theater, film and television in the four decades since she became the toast of Broadway, launched a Grammy-winning recording career and won her first Oscar in the 1968 musical “Funny Girl.”

News of her Kennedy Center honor came a day after supporters of Obama, the Democratic nominee for president, announced Streisand would sing at a fundraising reception for the Illinois senator in Beverly Hills, California, next Tuesday.

Fellow Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman, 71, currently co-starring in the blockbuster Batman movie sequel “The Dark Knight,” is recovering from injuries he suffered last month in a car crash near his home in Mississippi.

The work of Tharp, 67, helped transform modern dance, contemporary ballet and the Broadway musical, while country crooner Jones, 76, once singled out by Frank Sinatra as “the second best singer in America,” still headlines about 100 concerts a year.

Daltrey, 64, and Townshend, 63, the lead singer and lead guitarist, respectively, of the Who, are the last surviving members of the British band whose music helped define a generation of rock ‘n’ roll.

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Dean Goodman and Peter Cooney

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