WASHINGTON — The newest crop of Kennedy Center honorees, including comedian Billy Crystal and actor Queen Latifah, are hosted Sunday night at a star-studded event commemorating their lifetime achievements in the arts and entertainment.
Opera singer Renée Fleming, music star Barry Gibb and prolific hitmaker Dionne Warwick will also be honored at the black tie gala. Each will receive personalized tributes that include appearances and performances that are typically kept secret from the honorees themselves.
President Joe Biden welcomed the honorees to the White House before the event and said the performing arts “reflect who we are as Americans and as people.”
Biden, who then introduced this year’s class with a series of glowing superlatives about their own work, said the honorees “help shape how we see ourselves, how we see each other, and how we see our world.”
When announcing the award winners earlier this year, Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter called this year’s group of nominees “an extraordinary mix of individuals who are redefining art forms.”
Crystal, 75, rose to national fame in the 1970s when she portrayed Jodie Dallas, one of the first openly gay characters on American network television, on the sitcom “Soap.” After a brief but memorable year on “Saturday Night Live,” he starred in a number of films, including hits such as “When Harry Met Sally…”, “The Princess Bride” and “City Slickers.” ”
Crystal, who also received the Mark Twain Award, the Kennedy Center’s lifetime achievement award in comedy, in 2007, joins the elite group of comedians named for both: David Letterman, Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett and Neil Simon. . Bill Cosby received both awards, but was vacated following his 2018 sexual assault conviction, which was later overturned.
Warwick, 82, rose to fame in the 1960s as the muse of the superstar songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. His discography includes decades-long hits, both with and without Bacharach, such as “I Say a Little Prayer,” “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” and “That’s What Friends Are For.”
Fleming, 64, is one of the leading sopranos of her time with many awards, including the National Medal of Arts given by President Barack Obama, the Order of Merit of the German government and honorary membership of the British Royal Academy. of your music.
Gibb, 76, rose to international fame as part of the Bee Gees, one of the most successful bands in modern music history. The trio, along with their late siblings Robin and Maurice, released an almost unparalleled string of hits that defined a musical generation.
Latifah, 53, has been a star since she was 19, when her debut album and hit single “Ladies First” made her the first female crossover rap star. She has gone on to a diverse career that includes seven studio albums, appearances in numerous television shows and films, and an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress for her role in the musical “Chicago.”
Fleming and Latifah, whose real name is Dana Owens, also share some historical trivia of the Kennedy Center Honors. Both performed at the 2014 Super Bowl. Latifah sang “America the Beautiful” while Fleming sang the national anthem.