Carlos Santana was honored for his musical contributions to the world by President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors. Fellow Latina and opera singer Martina Arroyo was also recognized for her influence in the Latino community. "The selection of Carlos Santana and Martina Arroyo represent the rising national influence of Latin music and the Latino community," the White House wrote. "Música Latina, is known for its diversity, marked by its longstanding traditions and continuous creativity. Music has always been central to the Latino culture, a tradition that can be seen in towns and cities across America. As the Latino population in the US grows, so does the fusion of Latino rhythms in mainstream music from radio stations to the billboard charts."
Latinos are becoming a big influence in the United States and are shifting tastes nationwide. In a statement earlier this year during the "Música Latina Workshop" Michelle Obama confessed that she was a fan of the Latin genre saying, "Now, the percussive beats and the buoyant melodies from these songs come just – from just about everywhere. You’ll learn they come from the Caribbean and Mexico, and from Central and South America, and also even from Africa and Europe. And when you put all of that together, you can’t help but move to that music.” Secretary of State John Kerry revealed he loved Santana's music during the gala, "We love the music you made, not because it's Latin, but frankly because it is so very American."
Kennedy Center Honors is a recognition that is held annually by the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. The fete is a celebration of artists for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the arts. Other recipients included Bill Joel, Herbie Hancock and Shirley MacLaine. The latter actress will reprise her role as Martha Levinson in the iTV drama "Downton Abbey" in the annual Christmas Special episode. MacLaine will not come alone and will bring company along in the form of a playboy son of hers, Harold. The part will be played by Paul Giamatti, who will also guest-star during this highly-anticipated episode. The Kennedy Center Honors gala will be broadcasted in a two-hour special on December 29 at 9pm/8c on CBS. Scroll-through the photo gallery above to take a sneak peek of the celebration event! What other Latino artist should be recognized for their contribution in the entertainment industry?