Kennedy Center to Salute McCartney

Former Beatle will be recognized for contributions to American culture

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Paul McCartney will be among five people to receive this year's Kennedy Center Honors, which recognize artists for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts. Actors Elizabeth Taylor, James Earl Jones and Chita Rivera, and Metropolitan Opera artistic director James Levine will also be honored.

The twenty-fifth annual honors will take place on December 7th at a State Department dinner in Washington, D.C., hosted by Secretary of State Colin Powell. On December 8th, the honorees will be celebrated at a gala performance in the Kennedy Center's Opera House, to be attended by President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, as well as various artists. CBS will broadcast the event at a later date.

Announcing McCartney and Levine, Kennedy Center Chairman James A. Johnson described the musicians as deserving of the honor, "For the unique and extremely valuable contributions they have made to the cultural life of our nation" and described McCartney as "one of the most prolific and influential songwriters of our era."

Past musical honorees include Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry and Quincy Jones.