Simon steps up to kudos at Kennedy

Musician joins honorees Taylor, Jones, Levine, Rivera

WASHINGTON — Paul Simon will receive a Kennedy Center Honor this year at the center’s annual gala presentation and fundraiser. Simon replaces previously announced honoree Paul McCartney, who withdrew his name due to a scheduling conflict.

“We are delighted to salute a musical legend like Paul Simon,” said Kennedy Center chairman James A. Johnson, calling Simon “a songwriter who helped shape several generations of young Americans,” whose music “defined a seachange in American life and culture.”

Simon joins honorees Elizabeth Taylor, James Earl Jones, James Levine and Chita Rivera.

The center said it would make McCartney an honoree next year. The former Beatle bowed out after learning the gala and other festivities, slated for Dec. 7-8, conflict with the wedding of a niece he plans to attend. It is the first time in the program’s 25-year history that an announced honoree has declined to receive the honor, and the first time the center has agreed to postpone the award.

Johnson said the center “understands and respects” McCartney’s sense of priority “that places an inescapable personal obligation ahead of other commitments.”

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