WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the five men and women who were chosen to receive this year’s Kennedy Center Honors have “given the nation the extraordinary gift of the arts.”

Although each one has what the president says is a “staggering amount of talent,” Obama said they aren’t being recognized for their careers as great lyricists, songwriters, dancers or entertainers.

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Instead, he said,they are being celebrated for their ability to bring people together.

Obama spoke at a White House reception Sunday for the honorees. The five are Oprah Winfrey, Beatle Paul McCartney, dancer-choreographer Bill T. Jones, country singer Merle Haggard and Broadway composer Jerry Herman.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.