UPDATED, with details of performances: Noting the return of White House involvement in the Kennedy Center celebrations, President Joe Biden wrote a special message for the ceremony, saying the role of artists is “as important as ever” as the country recovers from Covid. 19 crisis.
In the video, Biden said he and First Lady Jill Biden met with this year’s winners at the White House, “acknowledging how art touches America’s soul.”
“In this year of deep loss and pain, of repair and renewal, the vision of artists is as important as ever,” Biden said.
He added: “In the search for greater meaning in our lives, we have discovered and rediscovered the power of art in every form.”
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CBS broadcasts the recorded ceremony on Sunday at 8:00 PM ET / PT.
Biden met with five Kennedy Center winners – Joan Baez, Midori, Garth Brooks, Debbie Allen and Dick Van Dyke – at the Oval Office last month. Although he did not attend the ceremony itself, which was recorded for several days in late May and in front of a smaller crowd because of the Covid-19 protocols, Biden’s appearance was a return to the president’s tradition of celebrating.
His predecessor, Donald Trump, abolished the White House reception tradition with the winners and also missed the ceremony at the Kennedy Center. In 2017, some of this year’s winners, including Norman Lear, said they planned to miss a White House reception in protest of Trump’s White House call for zero funding for the arts.
These draconian budget cuts never happened, but Biden’s White House recently proposed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of his supporters are also proposing to raise the arts in a White House office, in a structure similar to the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
In his remarks, Biden also said that “as part of the great tradition in our country, Jill and I will continue to celebrate the critical role that artists play in our nation.
Biden said: “We look forward to working with arts and culture organizations in big cities, small towns and rural communities to make art more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, to raise more voices and stories, to be let us remember what President Kennedy believed that by serving his vision of truth, artists best serve the nation. “
The ceremony was postponed from its usual date, the first weekend of December, due to the pandemic. The event was held in person, but looked very different from previous years, as the Kennedy Center introduced social distancing and other safety measures. For example, the performances, which would instead take place on the main stage of the Opera, were pre-recorded around the center.
In honor of Allen, Vanessa Hudgens and a team of dancers performed Glory on the outdoor terraces and the main promenade of the Kennedy Center. Shonda Rhymes paid tribute to her in a taped message emphasizing Allen’s work as a director Gray’s Anatomy.
Jackson Brown and Tom Morello recorded a tribute to Baez while Stirgil Simpson sang house of the rising sunand Emmylou Harris and Mary Chapin Carpenter performed some of her most iconic songs.
Julie Andrews, Brian Cranston, Lynn-Manuel Miranda and Chita Rivera appeared in the Van Dyke segment, along with Steve Martin. The latter noted that he worked in a magic shop in Disneyland in 1963, when he first met Van Dyke. Laura Osnes and Derek Howe spoke Put a happy facewhile Pentatonix and Aaron Tveit sang Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They limited it to A step in time from the terrace in the center, with the monuments of DC in the background.
Gustavo Dudamel, Beth Middler and John Lithgoe paid tribute to Midori as Yo-Yo Ma performed Bach’s Cello Suite 1 in G-Major, Prélude, in the Center Hall in the center. Gil Shaham and Adele Anthony played an excerpt from Bach’s Double Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Thomas Wilkins, followed by a performance by Hillary Hahn.
The busiest segment was the one dedicated to Brooks, who struggled with tears while Kelly Clarkson performed The dance. He stood up and greeted a number of points, as when Jimmy Allen sang Friends in low places, with figures from the audience like Nora O’Donnell and Senator Joe Manchin (DW. Ba.) on their feet clapping together. James Taylor sang “The River” with the National Symphony, and Jason Aldin, Wayne Gretsky and Bradley Cooper paid tribute. The evening ended with a performance by Gladys Knight We will be free.
The host was Gloria Estefan.