By BEVERLY KEEL
George Jones will receive the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors in December in Washington.
The Honors have been compared to a knighthood in Britain or the French Legion of Honor.
“With his unique voice and extraordinary career endurance, singer George Jones has been instrumental in making country music a vital force in American life,” says Stephen A. Schwarzman, Kennedy Center chairman.
Also being honored at this national celebration of the arts are Barbra Streisand, Morgan Freeman, choreographer Twyla Tharp and The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.
“Oh my goodness, I’m telling you, I am speechless,” George told me Tuesday. “It’s just a great honor. So many great artists and people in other parts of show business have been honored with this, and I’m so glad to be one of them.
“I’m just a country boy and didn’t know I’d ever get as far as I did in Nashville. This has got to be the tops of all the awards we’ve got. I am so honored.”
He said he is honored to follow in the footsteps of the other country stars who have received the Kennedy Center Honors, including Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Roy Acuff and Willie Nelson. He is particularly excited to meet Barbra and Morgan. “I just can’t wait to get up there and see everybody.”
Of course, a milestone occasion like this warrants a new suit. “I already took care of that,” he said. “We went out to Levy’s in Green Hills and we got all suited up.”
The annual Honors Gala, which will be attended by President Bush and his wife Laura, will be held Dec. 7 and broadcast later that month on CBS.
“It makes a grown person feel like a little boy again,” he said.