Last year the annual Kennedy Center Honors was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the annual induction ceremonies and tribute performances were held earlier this year.
On July 22, the Kennedy Center announced the 2021 Kennedy Center Honors inductees. This year’s inductees include award winning musicians, a television producer, a record label legend, and an opera performer.
For the past 44 years The Kennedy Center has selected various members of the entertainment industry – actors, dancers, musicians, etc. – to honour them for their lifetime artistic achievements. In 2021 those artists are Motown creator Berry Gordy; Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Award winner Bette Midler; “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels; opera baritone Justino Diaz; and eight time Grammy Award winning Canadian artist Joni Mitchell.
The Kennedy Center has no details about the December 5 ceremony but expects a full capacity masked up crowd after numerous restrictions during the pandemic ceremonies for 2020 honourees.
The 75 year old Bette Midler said she was, “stunned and grateful beyond words”. Midler added, “For many years I have watched this broadcast celebrating the best talent in the performing arts that America has to offer, and I truly never imagined that I would find myself among these swans.”
Now 77, folk music legend Joni Mitchell began her musical career on the coffee shop circuit and has since inspired generations of folk singers and songwriters.
This year the Kennedy Center celebrates 50 years of cultural performances. A now 81 year old Justino Diaz was among the performers at the Center’s grand opening. The Puerto Rican native spoke on his induction saying, “it’s such a great privilege to be able to say I shared this space with all these geniuses.”
Berry Gordy created Motown Records and what became known as the Motown Sound. Now 91, Gordy no longer heads the record label but has created a legacy that will live on for centuries. Gordy once called President John F. Kennedy “one of the greatest leaders in American history”. Adding, “to be honored in his name just means the world to me.”
The 2004 Mark Twain Award for lifetime achievement in comedy Lorne Michaels created an institution in 1975 with the debut of “Saturday Night Live”. Over the past 35 plus years, thousands of comics, actors, and musicians have shared the SNL stage.
Prior to 2016, Kennedy Center Honors festivities included dinner at the White House and attendance by the First Family.