Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Martina Arroyo Receive Kennedy Center Honors

The jazz pioneer, Latin guitarist and opera singer, along with Billy Joel and Shirley MacLaine, were awarded the nation’s highest honor for influencing American culture through the arts.

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Herbie Hancock, who discovered jazz in high school and would later join Miles Davis’ band and single-handedly revolutionize the early hip-hop landscape, received the nation’s highest tribute for influencing American culture through arts, the Associated Press reports.

Hancock joined Carlos Santana, Billy Joel, opera star Martina Arroyo and actress Shirley MacLaine in receiving the Kennedy Center Honors.

Hancock, 73, began playing piano at the age of 7, and soon he was tackling complex arrangements. Hancock joined the Miles Davis Quintet in 1963 in what many have considered Davis’ second great quintet. Later he would create his own sounds as one of the first jazz pianists to embrace the synthesizer, fusing jazz, funk, pop, gospel, soul and the blues.

Hancock’s best-known solo works include “Cantaloupe Island,” “Watermelon Man,” “Maiden Voyage,” “Chameleon” and the hip-hop classic “Rockit.”

Hancock has won an Oscar and 14 Grammy Awards, AP reports.

So what does all of this have to do with Bill O’Reilly?

O’Reilly, the Fox News host, led the tributes for Hancock. “I know, I’m surprised too,” he said.

Hancock stands out as a “remarkable American” and “remarkable artist,” O’Reilly said. Though he admitted that he was no expert on music, “I just know what I like,” he said.