WASHINGTON (Reuters Life!) - Actress Meryl Streep, singer-songwriter James Taylor and author Joyce Carol Oates are among the cultural luminaries named as recipients of prestigious White House awards for the arts and humanities.
President Barack Obama is slated to formally present the 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal to 20 honorees -- 10 recipients for each -- in a ceremony at the East Room of the White House on Wednesday.
Besides Streep, the Oscar-celebrated film actress, and Taylor, the Grammy-toasted recording star, the latest Medal of Arts winners include composer and producer Quincy Jones, jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins and author Harper Lee, whose literary classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” earned a Pulitzer Prize.
Neither Streep nor Lee was expected to attend Wednesday’s presentation.
Oates, a National Book Award winner whose body of work includes over 50 novels, as well as short stories, poetry and nonfiction, joins a roster of Humanities Medalists that includes three Pulitzer laureates -- “Portnoy’s Complaint” novelist Philip Roth and author-historians Gordon Wood and Bernard Bailyn.
Other 2010 arts medalists were: playwright-producer Robert Brustein; pianist Van Cliburn; abstract expressionist sculptor Mark di Suvero; poet Donald Hall and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.
Rounding out the list of humanities medalists were librarian Daniel Aaron, cultural historian Jacques Barzun; writer Wendell E. Berry; Hispanic literary scholar Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria; biographer and literary critic Arnold Rampersad; and Stanley Nider Katz, longtime president of the American Council of Learned Societies.
The National Medal of Arts, established by Congress in 1984, is the highest government award given to artists and art patrons. The National Humanities Medal was inaugurated in 1997.
Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Greg McCune