Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Martina Arroyo and Carlos Santana Receive Kennedy Center Honors, Become Third and Fourth Latinos To Receive Honor in the Organization's 35-Year History

After receiving criticism that during its history the John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts has excluded Latinos for its annual Kennedy Center Honors, this year two of the five honorees were of Latino/Hispanic descent. They are opera singer Martina Arroyo and guitarist Carlos Santana. They join jazz composer Herbie Hancock, pianist-singer-composer Billy Joel and actor Shirley MacLaine.

The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events that culminate in a performance honoring the honorees at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

The Honors were created by George Stevens, Jr., and the late Nick Vanoff. Stevens remains (as of this writing) involved as producer and co-writer for the Honors Gala. From 1981 to 2002, the ceremony was hosted by Walter Cronkite; since 2003, it has been hosted by Caroline Kennedy.

Arroyo and Santana become the third and fourth Latino honorees in the thirty-five year history of the Kennedy Center Honors (in which there are 183 honorees to date). The first Latino honoree was Plácido Domingo in 2000, who was followed by Chita Rivera in 2002.

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