Ronstadt Receives the National Medal of Arts

It’s turning out to be an extra special year for Linda Ronstadt

President Barack Obama awarded the 68-year-old Mexican American singer-songwriter the National Medal of Arts at a special ceremony on Monday at the White House.

Linda Ronstadt

During the ceremony, Obama, who hung the medal around Ronstadt’s neck, revealed, “I had a little crush on her back in the day.”

The honor was a particularly special moment for Ronstadt, who didn’t make it to her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April since Parkinson’s disease limits her ability to travel. The same month her album Heart Like a Wheel was inducted into the Library of CongressNational Recording Registry.

A military aide brought her into the East Room by wheelchair, but she walked to the stage to receive her award as a citation was read honoring her “one-of-a-kind voice” that paved the way for generations of women artists.

Eleven other recipients were awarded the 2013 National Medal of Arts, as the nation’s highest award given to artists and their patrons, including DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and Dominican-American writer Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies.

Ten were awarded the National Humanities Medal, which honors those in fields including history, literature, languages and philosophy.

During her illustrious career, Ronstadt has earned 11 Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy Award, and an ALMA Award. She’s also earned nominations for a Tony Award and a Golden Globe award.

Vergara to Receive National Humanities Medal

Camilo José Vergara has a date with President Barack Obama

The 69-year-old Chilean-born, New York-based writer, photographer and documentarian will receive the 2012 National Humanities Medal on July 10 in the White House.

Camilo José Vergara

The president will bestow the humanities awards, as well as the 2012 National Medal of Arts, in a ceremony in the East Room also attended by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Vergara is being heralded for “his stark visual representation of American cities. By capturing images of urban settings over time, his sequences reflect the vibrant culture of our changing communities and document the enduring spirit that shines through decay.”

Camilo José Vergara

Joining Vergara in the humanities spotlight are Edward L. Ayers, William G. Bowen, Jill Ker Conway, Natalie Zemon Davis, Robert Putnam, Kay Ryan, Frank Deford, Joan DidionRobert B. Silvers, Anna Deavere Smith and Marilynne Robinson.

At next week’s event, the President will deliver remarks and present the awards to the following individuals and organizations:

2012 National Medal of Arts

  • Herb Alpert, Malibu, CA
  • Lin Arison, Bal Harbour, FL
  • Joan Myers Brown, Philadelphia, PA
  • Renée Fleming, New York, NY
  • Ernest Gaines, Oscar, LA
  • Ellsworth Kelly, Spencertown, NY
  • Tony Kushner, New York, NY
  • George Lucas, San Anslemo, CA
  • Elaine May, New York, NY
  • Laurie Olin, Philadelphia, PA
  • Allen Toussaint, New Orleans, LA
  • Washington Performing Arts Society, Washington, DC

2012 National Humanities Medal

  • Edward L. Ayers, Henrico, VA
  • William G. Bowen, Princeton, NJ
  • Jill Ker Conway, Boston, MA
  • Natalie Zemon Davis, Toronto, CANADA
  • Frank Deford, New York, NY
  • Joan Didion, New York, NY
  • Robert Putnam¸ Cambridge, MA
  • Marilynne Robinson¸ Iowa City, IA
  • Kay Ryan, Fairfax, CA
  • Robert B. Silvers, New York, NY
  • Anna Deavere Smith¸ New York, NY
  • Camilo José Vergara, New York, NY