WASHINGTON – Barbra Streisand, actor Morgan Freeman and country singer George Jones will be honored by the Kennedy Center in December along with choreographer Twyla Tharp and musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who.
Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen Schwarzman hailed the "extraordinary genius and tenacity" of the 2008 lifetime achievement award recipients, who were announced Tuesday.
The Kennedy Center is a huge complex of theaters and concert halls in Washington built to honor the memory of President John F. Kennedy.
The work of the award recipients, Schwarzman said, has "redefined the way we see, hear and feel the performing arts."
Performers from New York, Hollywood and Nashville will salute the honorees at a Dec. 7 gala. For the last time, President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush will host the honorees at the White House before the performance. The awards are presented the night before at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Schwarzman called Streisand's career "one of the most thrilling spectacles of our culture." The 66-year-old has worked in music, theater and film, selling more albums than any other female artist. She said in a statement that she was "humbled and thrilled" to join the recipients of the 31st annual Kennedy Center Honors.
Jones, a Texas native who now calls Nashville home, said in an interview that he always thought of himself as an "old country boy singing beer-drinking songs. I never dreamed I'd ever be this big in the business." He turns 77 Friday.
Freeman, 71, currently starring in "The Dark Knight," made headlines after suffering broken bones in a Mississippi car crash last month. He won an Oscar for his role in "Million Dollar Baby."
Schwarzman said Tharp, 67, is an "American original, whose work has indelibly enriched the vocabulary of modern dance, contemporary ballet and the Broadway musical." He said Townshend, 63, and Daltrey, 64, as singers and songwriters for the band The Who, "transformed the sights and sounds of rock and roll."
Past honorees, including Clint Eastwood, Elton John and Sidney Poitier, made nominations for the awards, along with members of the Kennedy Center's national artists committee.