By Frank James
The Kennedy Center announced this year's recipients for the Kennedy Center Honors: comedian Mel Brooks, jazz artist Dave Brubeck, opera diva Grace Bumbry, actor Robert DeNiro and rock star Bruce Springsteen.
This is the 32nd year the Kennedy Center has awarded the honors for life-time achievement.
"This year, the Kennedy Center celebrates five extraordinary individuals whose unique and abundant artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world," said Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman. "With his hilarious movies and musicals, Mel Brooks has created comedic gems that will keep us laughing for years to come. Dave Brubeck's genius has dazzled us for six decades and has helped to define an American art form. Grace Bumbry helped to break the color barrier on her way to one of the most illustrious operatic careers in the 20th century. One of America's greatest cinematic actors, Robert De Niro has demonstrated a legendary commitment to his characters and has co-founded one of the world's major film festivals. With his gritty and honest songs that speak to the everyman, Bruce Springsteen has always had his finger on the pulse of America."
The annual Honors Gala has become the highlight of the Washington cultural year, and its broadcast on CBS is a high point of the television season. On Sunday, December 6, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, produced by George Stevens Jr. and Michael Stevens, the 2009 Honorees will be saluted by great performers from New York, Hollywood, and the arts capitals of the world. Seated with the President of the United States and Mrs. Obama, the Honorees will accept the thanks of their peers and fans through performances and heartfelt tributes.
The President and Mrs. Obama will receive the Honorees and members of the Artists Committee who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala performance. The 2009 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a supper dance in the Grand Foyer.