Media mogul Oprah Winfrey and dancer/choreographer/director Bill T. Jones—who won Tony awards for his choreography in Spring Awakening and this Fela!,—were among the five persons feted at the 33rd Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 5 in the annual tribute to excellence in art and culture. The pair joined world-renowned singer/songwriter Paul McCartney, country music icon Merle Haggard and Broadway bigwig Jerry Herman, who have collectively helped redefine television, dance, theater and music.

“The honesty of Merle Haggard’s music and poetic lyrics has helped to shape the world of country music for nearly five decades. Jerry Herman’s musicals rank him in the pantheon of Broadway’s Golden Age and will keep audiences humming along for generations to come. The inventive style and imaginative artistry of Bill T. Jones has had an invaluable impact on the varied landscapes of dance and theater. Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most influential and successful songwriters and musicians of all time, whose work has continuously altered both the creation and perception of music all over the world. For more than 25 years, Oprah Winfrey has established one of the most innovative careers in the entertainment world, with distinctive accomplishments in television and film,” said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein in a statement.

The star-studded Honors, which has become the highlight of the Washington cultural year, featured tributes from great performers from New York, Hollywood, Nashville, and the arts capitals of the world.

President Obama, who along with wife Michelle sat with the honorees at the event, paid homage to them in a White House ceremony before the show on Sunday. He said then, “Although the honorees…each possess a staggering amount of talent, the truth is, they aren’t being recognized tonight simply because of their careers as great lyricists or songwriters or dancers or entertainers.  Instead, they’re being honored for their unique ability to bring us closer together and to capture something larger about who we are –- not just as Americans, but as human beings.”

The show will be broadcast Dec. 28 on CBS.