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Talk show host Oprah Winfrey smiles as she talks to reporters before for the Chicago premier of "The Color Purple" Thursday, May 3, 2007.
Winfrey was one of five honorees revealed Tuesday.
The 56-year-old TV host and actress will be honored at the 33rd annual event in Washington on Dec. 5, along with former Beatles member Paul McCartney; dancer, choreographer and director Bill T. Jones; country singer-songwriter Merle Haggard; and Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman.
"I love surprising people, I don't like being surprised," Winfrey said. "Releasing any kind of control over a show and allowing myself to sit there and be surprised is not going to be easy but I'm willing to do that."
The Kennedy Center Honors recognize performing artists for their contributions to American culture. Winners are selected by the Kennedy Center's Board of Trustees. In addition to her award-winning TV show, Winfrey earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her work in the film adaptation of Alice Walker's novel "The Color Purple."
The event will air on CBS on Dec. 28