Sunday night marks the 36th annual Kennedy Center Honors, which means a new crop of five performers will be honored for their respective contributions to the arts.
"The Kennedy Center celebrates five extraordinary individuals who have spent their lives elevating the cultural vibrancy of our nation and the world," Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said of the event.
This year's class includes six-time Grammy winner Billy Joel, who just last week announced he has signed on for an indefinite residency of once-a-month shows at New York's Madison Square Garden, and Carlos Santana, who has 10 Grammys and three Latin Grammys of his own.
In addition to tonight's honor, the pair also share immortalization in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Santana was inducted in 1998, followed by Joel the next year.
Rounding out the 2013 class are jazz musician Herbie Hancock, who won a Best Original Music Score Academy Award in 1986 for 'Round Midnight, opera singer Martina Arroyo, and Oscar-winning stage and screen veteran Shirley MacLaine.
Recipients of the honor traditionally are not designated by art form, but rather judged primarily by excellence in their respective fields in the performing arts, whether it be music, dance, or acting.
All five honorees received their Kennedy Center Honors medallions last night at a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry and will take part in the Honors Gala on Sunday evening. Dubbed "the highlight of the Washington cultural year," the Gala will include salutes to each honoree from their artistic peers. President and Mrs. Obama are also scheduled to be in attendance.
"This is different. It's our nation's capital," Joel told The Associated Press. "This is coming more from my country than just people who come to see me. It's a little overwhelming."
The 2013 Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on Sunday and televised Dec. 29 from 9-11 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.