The 44th Annual Kennedy Center Honors were held on Sunday evening and this year’s honorees included Joni Mitchell, Bette Midler, Berry Gordy, Lorne Michaels, and Metropolitan Opera bass/baritone singer Justino Diaz. Each of the honorees received lifetime achievement awards for artistic excellence.
This year, the Kennedy Center Honors required every attendee to be fully vaccinated or have a negative PCR test to attend.
Tributes and testimonials for each new member were kept secret and were revealed during the event. Singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell was honored by Nora Jones, Brandi Carlile, Ellie Goulding, and Brittany Howard, who sang Joni Mitchell’s hits.
Diaz, who is known as the first Puerto Rican to win the Metropolitan Opera’s annual contest in 1963 and had a forty-eight-year run with the opera house, was honored with a performance from the 1967 film Carmen, in which he portrayed “Escamillo.” His two daughters, Katya and Natascia, also honored him with a performance.
Michaels, who is known as the creator and producer of Saturday Night Live, was honored by SNL alumni and current cast, with three “Weekend Update” segments featuring Kevin Nealon, Seth Myers, and Amy Poehler, and current mock newscasters Michel Che and Colin Jost.
Goldie Hawn and Barbara Hershey honored actor/singer/comedian Bette Midler with special thoughts and memories of Midler. Tony Award winner Billy Porter sang Midler’s song from “Beaches,” “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and Andra Day and Stevie Wonder honored Motown Music founder Berry Gordy with a medley of Motown Hits.
You can watch the 2021 Kennedy Center Honors when it airs on CBS on December 22 at 8 p.m. CST.