On November 14, President George W. Bush announced that guitarist and music technology pioneer Les Paul would receive a 2007 National Medal of Arts at a presentation ceremony on November 15 in the East Room of the White House. According to an official White House statement, First Lady Laura Bush; Mrs. Lynne Cheney; Dana Gioia, chairperson, National Endowment for the Arts; and Dr. Bruce Cole, chairperson, National Endowment for the Humanities, joined the President and award recipients at the event.
The highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government, the National Medal of Arts is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who, in his judgment, “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.”
The selection process begins with nominations from the public and various members of the arts community. This year, the public was able to enter a nomination online. The entire list of nominees is then reviewed by the National Council on the Arts, which is comprised of individuals appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. After its review, the council forwards an edited list of nominees to the president from which, along with candidates of the president’s own choosing, the president selects the recipients.
The now 92-year-old Les Paul is a leading figure in the development of the electric guitar and a number of recording innovations, as well as a well-respected recording artist, and continues to perform on Monday nights at New York City’s Iridium Jazz Club.
For more information, visit www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/11/20071114-7.html and www.iridiumjazzclub.com.