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Billy Joel, Carlos Santana Celebrated as Kennedy Center Honors Recipients

Image courtesy of Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images (via ABC News Radio)

Billy Joel , Carlos Santana and legendary actress Shirley MacLaine were among the entertainers who were honored Sunday in Washington, D.C., as the 2013 recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors.

The honors are presented annually by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in recognition of recipients' lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.

Billy was saluted at a gala event by Tony Bennett , who remarked, "Billy Joel is no less than the poet, performer, philosopher of today's American songbook."

Tony's speech was followed by a series of performances that paid homage to the "Piano Man's" music. Garth Brooks delivered a medley of "Only the Good Die Young," "Allentown" and "Goodnight Saigon." For the latter tune, he was joined by a choir of Vietnam veterans.

In addition, Don Henley of The Eagles sang "She's Got a Way"; Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie belted out "Big Shot"; and Rufus Wainwright performed "New York State of Mind" and led the audience in a sing-along of "Piano Man."

Carlos was saluted with a speech from Harry Belafonte , who called him a "citizen of the world." Santana's music was played by Tom Morello , Colombian musician Juanes , Buddy Guy , Steve Winwood , and Sheila E .

Musician Herbie Hancock , actress Shirley MacLaine and opera singer Martina Arroyo were also honored at the gala, which was taped for a CBS special set to air December 29.

Prior to the event, the five recipients were recognized at a White House reception by President Obama .

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio