Washington (AFP) - Linda Ronstadt, who was the most successful female rocker of the 1970s and pioneered the role of women in that genre, was honored Monday with the highest US arts prize.
President Barack Obama bestowed the National Medal of Arts on the multiple Grammy winner, now 68 and suffering from Parkinson's.
"The arts and humanities aren't just there to be consumed when we have a moment ... we need them," Obama said at the White House awards ceremony.
Known for hits such as "It's So Easy" and "You're No Good," Ronstadt has taken home 11 Grammys and worked with a wide range of artists from Emmylou Harris to Dolly Parton, The Eagles, James Taylor, Neil Young and Elvis Costello.
Her massive success in the 1970's, as a rare woman in the boys' club of rock, was unchartered water at the time and she is credited with inspiring women to rock for decades.
Indeed, Ronstadt -- whose work has veered from pop to country, to rock and roll, big band, jazz, opera, Broadway standards and traditional Mexican music -- was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
The White House said Ronstadt "defied expectations to conquer American radio waves and help pave the way for generations of women artists."
Many Americans familiar with her huge body of work in English may not know her family is part Mexican, that she grew up listening to Mexican music, and went on to record in Spanish. She also holds a Latin Grammy for Lifetime Achievement.