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Wed Jul 21, 2021, 11:11 AM

Bette Midler and Joni Mitchell Are Among The Newest Kennedy Center Honorees [View all]

Source: NPR

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced its 44th lifetime achievement award winners. They are: Motown founder Berry Gordy, opera star Justino Díaz, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, entertainer Bette Midler and television impresario Lorne Michaels, who created Saturday Night Live.

Modeled after European distinctions such as France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres or the United Kingdom's Order of the British Empire, the Kennedy Center Honors celebrate artists who changed American culture—"not someone who happens to have a pop record hit at the moment," in the words of Bernie Sofronski, a CBS producer who helped create the awards in 1978.

This year's honorees certainly qualify. Justino Díaz performed at the Kennedy Center's grand opening 50 years ago, appearing as the male lead in Alberto Ginastera's opera Beatrix Cenci. "With his distinguished, deeply resonant voice and storied operatic career, Justino Díaz stood on the stages of the world's great opera houses and today stands as one of the greatest bass-baritones of our time," Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement.

"Visionary music producer and songwriter Berry Gordy brought the quintessential soulfulness of Detroit into every home in America," Rubenstein continued, "elevating the Motown sound to become a national treasure." Gordy described himself as "thrilled" to join the legacy of Kennedy Center honorees. "Growing up in Detroit, I was not only Black but the 'black sheep' of my family," he wrote in a statement. "I was a failure at everything I did until I was 29 years old... The Arts not only give voice to the voiceless, but connect us, transform us, and soothe our souls. The Kennedy Center Honors epitomizes the recognition and value of both the Arts, and the Artist."

Read more: https://www.npr.org/2021/07/21/1018367381/bette-midler-and-joni-mitchell-are-among-the-newest-kennedy-center-honorees

Congrats to all of them!

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