At the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, President Joe Biden celebrated artists such as Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, and Lorne Michaels, reviving a tradition that Republican Donald Trump had abandoned.
The Kennedy Center’s selection of performers for top honors this year was rounded up by singer Justino Daz and Motown founder Berry Gordy, in a show that had been upended by politics and the COVID-19 pandemic’s restrictions.
“To all of the Kennedy Center honorees past and present, thank you for sharing your gift with the nation and … with the world,” Biden said at a black-tie reception at the White House.
Trump did not hold a reception like this throughout his four years in office, and he did not attend the Kennedy Center performance.
The arts community, for the most part, was unconcerned about the absence. If Trump had shown there, Cher, a 2018 honoree, and prominent Trump opponent said she would have had to accept the award in a bathroom.
The event was attended by Vice President Joe Biden, his wife, Jill, Vice President Kamala Harris, and her husband, Doug Emhoff, as well as House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
“It is quite nice, very nice, to see the presidential box once again being occupied,” comedian David Letterman said at the beginning of the show. The crowd rose in a standing ovation.
The awards honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the performing arts over the course of their lives. Because of the epidemic, the show was canceled in 2020. Instead, the recipients from the previous year were honored in a smaller ceremony early this year.
On Sunday, audience members had to show proof of the COVID-19 vaccination.
Midler, a singer, and actress, has won Grammy, Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe awards throughout the course of her career, which has seen her sell over 30 million albums worldwide. Goldie Hawn, Scarlett Johansson, and Barbara Hershey were among the actresses who paid tribute to her at the ceremony. “Nothing stops Bette,” Hawn said.
Midler dished to reporters about the reception on her way into the Kennedy Center. “It was divine at the White House,” she said. “Very clean. Lovely. Great staff. The food was excellent. The wine was a little sweet.”
‘I THINK I’M IN A DREAM’
Mitchell, a multi-Grammy recipient and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, is a Canadian singer-songwriter best known for songs like “Both Sides, Now” and “Big Yellow Taxi.” Norah Jones’ songs “The Circle Game” and “A Case of You,” as well as Brandi Carlile’s soaring rendition of “River,” opened the evening.
Michaels, a native of Canada, is the creator and executive producer of “Saturday Night Live,” a long-running NBC sketch comedy show.
SNL has utilized seven comics to play Biden throughout the years, according to Biden.
“If you can’t laugh at yourself, we’re in real trouble, and you make me laugh at myself a lot,” Biden said during his remarks at the White House, referring to Michaels. Current and former SNL cast members lauded and roasted the producer during the show and singer Paul Simon sang “America.”
Diaz, a Puerto Rico bass-baritone opera singer, was honored with performances from “Carmen” and “Faust.”
“It’s like coming home again,” Diaz told reporters as he entered the Kennedy Center. “Except a different part of the house: I’ll be in a very easy chair and I don’t have to sing.”
Gordy, a Detroit songwriter, and record producer formed the Motown record label, which became identified with jazz and blues-influenced musical style popularised by Black musicians such as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Lionel Richie, whose careers he shaped.
As per Yahoo, Wonder performed songs like “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “Superstition” from the Kennedy Center stage. Smokey Robinson also sang a song in honor of his friend.
“I think I’m in a dream … and it’s a wonderful dream,” Gordy told reporters.
The Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcast on the CBS television network on December 22.