Kennedy Center 2021 honorees include SNL creator Lorne Michaels, Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, Berry Gordy
This year's gala will take place in person in December and be broadcast on CBS and Paramount+.
Every year, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts honors artistic luminaries from film, TV, music, and the stage. Now it has announced its 44th class of honorees: Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, Motown founder Berry Gordy, actress Bette Midler, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, and operatic bass-baritone Justino Díaz.
Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein enumerated the honorees' achievements in a statement issued Wednesday. "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; 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."
Last year's class of honorees could not attend their gala in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was rescheduled for this May, held over the course of a week, and broadcast in June.
Now that so many Americans are vaccinated, the 44th Kennedy Center Honors Gala will take place on Sunday, Dec. 5, in Washington, D.C. in a star-studded celebration. The ceremony will be recorded for broadcast on CBS at a later date as a two-hour prime-time special, and will also be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.