Thursday, November 24 2022

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden celebrated performers such as Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell and Lorne Michaels at the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, bringing the presidential turnout to an annual event ignored by Republican Donald Trump.

Singer Justino Díaz and Motown founder Berry Gordy rounded out the Kennedy Center-selected group of artists for top honors this year in a show that had been rocked by pandemic politics and restrictions. of COVID-19.

“To all of the Kennedy Center laureates 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.

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Trump did not host such a reception during his four-year tenure and did not attend the show at the Kennedy Center.

The artistic community has largely not opposed this absence. Singer and actress Cher, 2018 winner and outspoken Trump critic, said she should have accepted the award in a bathroom if Trump had come.

Biden, his wife Jill, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff all attended the ceremony, as did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

“It’s quite pleasant, very pleasant, to see the presidential box being occupied again,” comedian David Letterman said at the start of the show. The crowd rose to a standing ovation.

The awards recognize a lifetime of achievement in the performing arts. The show did not take place in 2020 due to the pandemic. Instead, last year’s winners were celebrated at a scaled-down event earlier this year.

On Sunday, spectators were required to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Midler, singer and actress, has received Grammy, Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe awards for a career spanning decades, with over 30 million albums sold worldwide. Actresses Goldie Hawn, Scarlett Johansson and Barbara Hershey honored her at the event. “Nothing’s stopping Bette,” Hawn said.

Midler spoke to reporters about the reception as she walked to the Kennedy Center. “It was divine in the White House,” she said. ” Very clean. Charming. Great staff. The food was excellent. The wine was a little sweet.

Kennedy Center Fellows, bass-baritone Justino Diaz, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, actress and singer-songwriter Bette Midler and founder, songwriter , Motown producer and director Berry Gordy pose for the 44th Kennedy Center Honors Class Photo after the medal ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, United States on December 4, 2021. REUTERS / Ken Cedeno

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Singer-songwriter Mitchell, a Canadian known for songs such as “Both Sides, Now” and “Big Yellow Taxi,” is a recipient of multiple Grammy Awards and inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The show opened with performances of her songs “The Circle Game” and “A Case of You” by Norah Jones and a rising rendition of “River” by Brandi Carlile.

Michaels, also from Canada, is the creator and executive producer of the longtime NBC sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live”.

Biden noted that SNL had used seven comics to play him over the years.

“If you can’t laugh at yourself we are in real trouble and you make me laugh at myself a lot,” Biden said during his White House address, referring to Michaels. Current and former SNL cast members praised and roasted the producer during the show, and singer Paul Simon sang “America.”

Diaz, a baritone-bass opera singer from Puerto Rico, was celebrated with performances of “Carmen” and “Faust”.

“It’s like coming home,” Diaz told reporters as he entered the Kennedy Center. “Except in another part of the house: I will be in a very comfortable chair and I don’t have to sing.”

Gordy, songwriter and record producer from Detroit, founded the Motown label which has become synonymous with a musical sound influenced by jazz and blues popularized by black artists such as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Lionel Richie, whose career he helped shape. .

Wonder sang and performed from the Kennedy Center stage, including “You are the Sunshine of My Life” and “Superstition”. Smokey Robinson also sang and paid tribute to his friend.

“I think I’m in a dream… and it’s a wonderful dream,” Gordy told reporters.

The Kennedy Center Honors will air on the CBS Television Network (VIAC.O) on December 22.

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Reporting by Jeff Mason and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Peter Cooney and Karishma Singh

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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