The Kennedy Center presented this year's Honors for lifetime cultural contributions to five artists Saturday night. This year's winners are country and western singer Merle Haggard; Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman; Beatles musician, Paul McCartney; choreographer and director Bill T. Jones; and actress and media personality Oprah Winfrey.
The AP reports actress Julia Roberts opened the show, noting she first learned about future President Barack Obama by watching Oprah's show. Mr. Obama, who attended the Kennedy Center gala with First Lady Michelle Obama, also hosted the honorees at the White House where he discussed the necessity of art:
The Kennedy Center says the only criterion used to select recipients is 'excellence'. The gala will be broadcast on Dec. 28. Look for Jennifer Hudson, Steven Tyler, Willie Nelson, Norah Jones and Claire Danes, among other performing stars.