Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, SESAME STREET, Michael Tilson Thomas and Earth, Wind & Fire Earn Kennedy Center Honors
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced the selection of five Honorees who will receive the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements. Recipients to be honored at the 42nd annual national celebration of the arts are: R&B collective Earth, Wind & Fire, actress Sally Field, singer Linda Ronstadt, children's television program Sesame Street, and conductor and musical visionary Michael Tilson Thomas.
"The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates icons who, through their artistry, have left an indelible stamp on our collective cultural consciousness," stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. "Earth, Wind & Fire's hooks and grooves are the foundation of a seminal style that continues to shape our musical landscape; Sally Field has brought us unforgettable characters, both joyous and poignant, for more than five decades; Linda Ronstadt is the defining voice of a generation, spanning genres, languages, and continents;Sesame Street continues to revolutionize how children and adults learn about our world; and Michael Tilson Thomas goes far beyond keeping score: he has shaped American music and musical institutions for the 21st century."
"In this class of Honorees, we are witnessing a uniquely American story: one that is representative of so many cultural touchstones and musical moments that make our nation great," said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. "When I look at this distinctive group, I see the hopes, aspirations, and achievements not just of these artists, but of the many generations they have influenced and continue to influence. We're not just looking back; these Honorees are urging us to look forward as well."
The 42nd annual Kennedy Center Honors marks the first time a television program will receive the award. The co-founders of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney and Dr. Lloyd Morrisett, will accept the Kennedy Center Honors on behalf of the show, Muppets creator Jim Henson, Muppets artists Caroll Spinney and Frank Oz, and the thousands of creatives who have built the program's 50-year legacy.
Throughout its 41-year history, the annual Honors Gala has become the highlight of the Washington cultural and society calendar, and its national broadcast on CBS is a high point of the television season. On Sunday, December 8, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, produced by Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment, the 2019 Honorees will be saluted by today's leading performers from New York, Hollywood, and the arts capitals of the world. Seated in the Box Tier of the iconic Kennedy Center Opera House, the Honorees will accept the recognition and gratitude of their peers through performances and tributes. The 2019 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a dinner in the Grand Foyer.
The Kennedy Center Honors medallions will be presented on Saturday, December 7, the night before the Gala, at a State Department dinner. The Founding Chair of the State Department dinner is Elizabeth Stevens.
The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 42nd consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special on Sunday, December 15 at 8 p.m. ET.
White Cherry Entertainment is well known for producing the perennial award-winning Tony Awards for the last 18 consecutive years, and also for producing the Primetime Emmy Awards, NFL Opening Kickoff and Super Bowl Halftime Shows, the Democratic National Convention, Presidential Inaugural Galas, and many other special events. To date, White Cherry Entertainment has won nine Emmy Awards, while Kirshner and Weiss have individually received an additional six Emmy Awards, eight Directors Guild Awards, a Peabody Award, and 40 Emmy nominations. This is the fifth consecutive year White Cherry will produce the Kennedy Center Honors.
The Honors recipients recognized for their contributions to American culture through the performing arts-whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television-are confirmed by the Executive Committee of the Center's Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.
The Honoree selection process includes solicitation of recommendations from the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees, the artistic community, and the general public. This year's selected Honorees were chosen based on the recommendation of the Center's Special Honors Advisory Committee, which is chaired by David Bohnett and includes David M. Rubenstein, Deborah F. Rutter, Michael Lombardo, Cappy McGarr, and Shonda Rhimes, along with past Honors recipients and distinguished artists Julie Andrews, Martina Arroyo, Gloria Estefan, Herbie Hancock, Twyla Tharp, and John Williams. These individuals play a critical role in the evaluation and selection process, and the Kennedy Center is indebted to them for their involvement.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos