added: 4 Mar 2011 // by: VVN Music
Eight artists were honored on Wednesday at the White House as President Obama presented them with the National Medal of the Arts.
The honor is a White House initiative managed by the National Endowment for the Arts who oversees the nomination process.
President Obama spoke at the ceremony, saying "One of the great joys of being president is getting a chance to pay tribute to the artists and authors, the poets and performers, who have touched our hearts and opened our minds or, in the case of Quincy Jones and James Taylor, set the mood.
"And I speak personally here because there are people here whose books or poetry or works of history shaped me. The fact is that works of art, literature, works of history, they speak to our condition and they affirm our desire for something more and something better."
Also in attendance with first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden and former house speaker Nancy Pelosi.
A total of ten individuals and one organization were given the honor.
Robert Brustein - Theatrical Critic, Producer, Playwright, and Educator
Van Cliburn - Pianist and Music Educator
Mark di Suvero - Sculptor
Donald Hall - Poet
Quincy Jones - Musician and Music Producer
Harper Lee - Author
Sonny Rollins - Jazz Musician
Meryl Streep - Actress
James Taylor - Singer and Songwriter
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival
Streep and Lee were not able to attend and will receive their awards at a later time.
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