Jazz saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera and country icon Dolly Parton were among the recipients of the 2005 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons through the U.S government. Presented by the President and Mrs. Laura Bush in an Oval Office ceremony at the White House on November 10, the Medal is awarded to those who "are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States."
|BMI jazz artist Paquito D'Rivera (center) receives the National Medal of Arts from First Lady Laura Bush and President George W. Bush|
Administered by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Medal of Arts has been issued to over 200 individuals since its inception in 1984. Among the past recipients are blues giants B.B. King and Buddy Guy, country legends George Jones, Bill Monroe and Roy Acuff, jazz masters Dave Brubeck and Betty Carter, concert composer Elliott Carter and soul artist Ray Charles.
Soul singer Aretha Franklin was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President Bush at a White House ceremony on November 9. Established by President Truman in 1945, this prestigious award recognizes "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Other 2005 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients included Muhammad Ali, Carol Burnett and Andy Griffith. Chosen by the President, Franklin joins the company of legendary performers Marian Anderson, Placido Domingo, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.