The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced last week its selection of five honorees who will receive the 44th Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements.
Recipients to be honored at the annual national celebration of the arts in Washington, D.C., are: operatic bass-baritone Justino Díaz, Motown founder, songwriter, producer, and director Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels, stage and screen actress Bette Midler and singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.
Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said the awards celebrate luminaries whose art and creativity have enriched society beyond measure.
“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; visionary music producer and songwriter Berry Gordy brought the quintessential soulfulness of Detroit into every home in America, elevating the Motown sound to become a national treasure,” Rubenstein said.
“Lorne Michaels created the most enduring ‘must-see television’ with Saturday Night Live, a show that is both mirror and muse for life in America; an artistic tour de force and America’s Divine Miss M, Bette Midler has enjoyed an unrivaled and prolific career, entertaining millions with her wondrous voice and trademark comedic wit; and songstress Joni Mitchell, blends raw, deeply personal lyrics with her stunningly ethereal voice in 19 albums, becoming one of the most influential singer-songwriters and cultural figures in 20th-century popular music.”
The honors recipients are recognized for their contributions to American culture through the performing arts— in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television — and are confirmed by the executive committee of the Center’s Board of Trustees.
Throughout its 43-year history, the primary criterion in the selection process is excellence, according to Kennedy Center officials.
Berry Gordy, 91, said in a statement that he’s thrilled to become a part of this prestigious American legacy.
“The arts not only give voice to the voiceless, but connect us, transform us, and soothe our souls,” said Gordy.
“Growing up in Detroit, I was not only Black but the “black sheep” of my family. I was a failure at everything I did until I was 29 years old, while my younger brother Robert was not only a family favorite, but strangely, a favorite of mine as well. He inspired me with his loyalty, love, and graciousness.”
“Throughout the years I’ve been blessed with many wonderful memories, but this — the Kennedy Center Honors — is one that will be forever in my heart.”
The Kennedy Center Honors will be recorded live on Dec. 5 and broadcasted on television at a later date.

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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