Washington (AFP) – The Kennedy Center Honors is returning to tradition this year.
The Lifetime Achievement Awards for artistic excellence will be presented Sunday night at a gala at the Kennedy Center’s main opera house after the coronavirus pandemic forced delays and major changes in plans last year.
Honorees include Motown Records composer Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” mastermind Lorne Michaels, actress and singer Bette Midler, opera singer Justino Diaz and popular music legend Joni Mitchell.
This year’s event also marks a return to normal political life, with President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden planning to attend. The Democrat will be the first president to sit at the Kennedy Center with honors since 2016.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have been absent from the show for their first three years in office after several artists honored in 2017, his first year in office, threatened to boycott a White House reception if the Republican participated.
Trump also canceled a traditional White House tribute gala, which Biden is resuming. Presidents usually host a merry meeting with honorees at the White House before the awards ceremony.
Last year, the pandemic forced organizers to bring the annual December concert back to May 2021. A tribute performance to the artists was filmed over several nights and at multiple locations on campus.
The major COVID-related adjustment for this year was to move the annual Saturday party, where honorees receive their medals on rainbow-colored ribbons, to the Library of Congress rather than the State Department.
Sunday’s concert, which will air on CBS on December 22, is the centerpiece of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Center’s cultural programming. The center opened in 1971.