IN A NEW SEASON: The Kennedy Center Honors will take place May 2021
by Patrick D. McCoy
When the prestigious awards ceremony did not happen in December because of the ongoing pandemic, the whole arts world wondered if it would. It was announced today by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts the selection of five Honorees who will receive the 43rd Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements. Recipients to be honored at the 43rd annual national celebration of the arts are: multi-disciplinary artist, choreographer, and actress Debbie Allen; singer-songwriter and activist Joan Baez; country singer-songwriter Garth Brooks; violinist Midori; and actor Dick Van Dyke.
Chairman David M. Rubenstein reflected on the celebration. “The Kennedy Center Honors serves as a moment to celebrate the remarkable artists who have spent their lives elevating the cultural history of our nation and world.” He went on to highlight the accomplishments of each of the recipients.
“Debbie Allen moves seamlessly between artistic disciplines and is a cultural ambassador for all while having a monumental impact on dancers of color everywhere; folk icon Joan Baez breathed new life into the genre and powered rock music’s turn toward social and political consciousness; as one of the world’s best-selling music artists, Garth Brooks heightened country music’s profile like no other singer before him; with an international presence for over 35 years, violinist Midori combines graceful precision and expression for performances building connections between art and the human experience; with a charm that has made him one of the most cherished performers in show business history, Dick Van Dyke has brought us beloved film, stage, and TV characters adored by generations of fans, for more than seven decades.”
An honoree medallion ceremony for the Honorees and a limited audience will be hosted by the Kennedy Center during this week in May 17–22.
Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter echoed the changes in this year’s ceremony. “This past year has taught us many things including the need to be flexible and adaptable…They say necessity is the mother of all invention. The unusual circumstances inspired and opened up new ways for us to present a deeper experience, and hopefully understanding, of the art and lifetime work of our Honorees. 2020 has also shined a bright light on the impact of how art and culture speaks to our collective human experience. It can meet us at any moment—and sustain us during the most challenging days. Each of the 43rd Kennedy Center Honorees and their work continues to speak to American culture and our national fortitude. We are thrilled to be able to fete these cultural icons in a time where the world and the nation needs the arts more than ever.”
The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 43rd consecutive year as a two-hour prime time special on June 6, 9 p.m. ET.
A native of Petersburg, VA, Patrick holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Virginia State University and a MM in Church Music from Shenandoah Conservatory. Formerly the Performing Arts Columnist for Washington Life Magazine, he currently is a freelance writer, publishing articles for several noted publications, including The Washington Post, Early Music America Classical Music Voice North America, The Afro-American Newspaper, CBS Washington and Examiner.com. He is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America, National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., The American Choral Directors’ Association, a member of the Shenandoah University Alumni Board of Directors and a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Zion Parish in Beltsville, MD and serves on the music faculty of Virginia State University where he teaches applied voice, music appreciation and assist with the University Concert Choir. Visit http://www.patrickdmccoy.com