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The Latest Living Legends

Though you may think blues great B.B. King and American composer Gunter Schuller have little in common, but they do share a distinct honor. In 2005, both were named Living Legends by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

B.B. King, who became a Living Legend on Sept. 12. Gunter Schuller, who became a Living Legend on Dec. 16.

On Sept. 12, 2005, in a special ceremony at the Library of Congress, Billington presented King with a Living Legend medal in honor of his achievements as a musician and ambassador for the blues. Schuller received the award for a distinguished career as a leader in both the classical and jazz traditions on Dec. 16 during a concert held in the Coolidge Auditorium.

The Library's Living Legend award is given to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to America's diverse cultural, scientific and social heritage. The first awards were given five years ago in connection with the Library's Bicentennial celebration, to honor Americans whose creative contributions to American life have made them living legends. The Library is currently celebrating Creativity in America, beginning with "The Song of America Tour" featuring world-renowned baritone Thomas Hampson.

Other recipients of the Living Legend award include artists, writers, filmmakers, physicians, entertainers, sports figures, public servants and, of course, musicians-among them Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck, Benny Carter, Johnny Cash, Yo-Yo Ma, Dolly Parton, Itzhak Perlman, Leontyne Price, Pete Seeger and Ralph Stanley.

The Library also bestows other awards and honors, such as the Poet Laureate -- whose current title holder is Ted Kooser -- and the Kluge Prize, given for "deep intellectual accomplishment in the human sciences."

A. B.B. King, who became a Living Legend on Sept. 12. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

B. Gunter Schuller, who became a Living Legend on Dec. 16. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.