Audra McDonald, Mel Brooks, & More to Receive National Medal of Arts

By: Sep. 14, 2016
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It was announced today that a number of Broadway veterans are set to be awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama later this month.

Famed soprano, Audra McDonald, will receive the award alongside of several other theatrical luminaries including comedy legend, Mel Brooks and Academy Award-winner, Morgan Freeman. Other 2016 recipients include composer Philip Glass, playwright Moises Kaufman, The Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, record producer and songwriter Berry Gordy, playwright and actor Luis Valdez, and dancer and choreographer Ralph Lemon.

The recipients will receive their medals at a September 22nd ceremony at the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama in attendance.

The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government. The National Medal of Arts is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who "...are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States."

Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actress. A record-breaking six-time Tony Award winner (Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill), she has also appeared on Broadway in Shuffle Along, The Secret Garden, Marie Christine (Tony nomination), Henry IV, and 110 in the Shade (Tony nomination). The Juilliard-trained soprano's opera credits include La voix humaine and Send at Houston Grand Opera and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Los Angeles Opera.

Mel Brooks is the recipient of three 2001 Tony Awards (Best Score, Best Book of a Musical, Best Musical) and two Grammy Awards (Best Musical Show Album and Best Long-Form Music Video) for The Producers. Mr. Brooks began his distinguished career during television's Golden Age as a writer for Sid Caesar on "Your Show of Shows" in 1951. In 1957, together with Joe Darion, he wrote the book for the Broadway musical Shinbone Alley, which starred Eartha Kitt. In 1962, he wrote the book for the Broadway musical All American, starring Ray Bolger. He went on to create a remarkable string of hit comedies: including Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, History of the World, Part I, Spaceballs; and Robin Hood: Men in Tights and produced The Producers, the film version of his Tony Award-winning 2001 Broadway musical. Brooks all holds the distinction of having won the illustrious EGOT- Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards.