*Singer Mavis Staples has been named among the 2016 recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, joining Al Pacino, James Taylor, the rock band The Eagles and Argentine pianist Martha Argerich on the annual list of artists lauded for their lifetime of contributions to American culture.
The group will be celebrated Dec. 4 at a gala presentation to be broadcast on CBS Dec. 27, according to the Kennedy Center. Per tradition, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend along with other notables from the worlds of showbusiness, politics and business.
Staples’s “unmatched gospel and rhythm and blues masterpieces span 60 years and even served as a musical backdrop to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign for civil rights,” noted the Kennedy Center in a statement.
“Reflecting on the powerful commitments these artists have made to their crafts as well as the cultural contributions they have made over the course of their illustrious careers is a humbling experience,” added Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter. “These Honorees have each played a unique role in shaping America’s artistic landscape with their work, expressing their creativity in ways that pushed the boundaries of what art can do, and what it can mean. Their artistic triumphs have motivated us, moved us, and will continue to inspire us for generations to come.”
Below, vintage Mavis Staples with the Staples Singers on “Soul Train”: