By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated August 06, 2003 03:51 PM

Godfather of Soul James Brown, TV comedian Carol Burnett, country superstar Loretta Lynn, noted film and stage director Mike Nichols and classical musician Itzhak Perlman have been chosen for the 26th annual Kennedy Center Honors, reports the Associated Press.

James A. Johnson, chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, said Tuesday that the quintet was being cited “for the unique and extremely valuable contributions they have made to the cultural life of our nation.”

The awards for their lifetime achievement will be presented Dec. 7. President and Mrs. Bush will hold a White House reception for the honorees that night, followed by a gala performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

In announcing this year’s choices, Johnson said Brown, 78, is “one of the most influential musicians of the past 50 years,” for hits such as “Please, Please, Please,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good).”

He called Burnett, 70, “a nationally treasured icon of television comedy” for her “Carol Burnett Show,” which ran on CBS from 1967-78. And Lynn, 68, is “a singer whose name is synonymous with the heartbreak and joy of country music,” for her classics such as “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “Woman of the World” and the autobiographical “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

Nichols, 71, directed the original Broadway productions of “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Odd Couple” as well as the movies “The Graduate” and “Carnal Knowledge.” And Israeli violinist Perlman, 57, has performed with orchestras all over the world.

CBS will present the show as a two-hour prime-time special later in December.