Joan Baez and Garth Brooks have been named among the 2020 Kennedy Center Honors recipients, the organization announced on Wednesday. Multidisciplinary artist-actress Debbie Allen, violinist Midori, and actor Dick Van Dyke will also receive the award for lifetime achievement in the arts. The 2020 event was postponed due to the pandemic and will now be held in May.
“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,” Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement.
“Folk icon Joan Baez breathed new life into the genre and powered rock music’s turn toward social and political consciousness,” he said of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alumnus, who was inducted in 2017. “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,” Rubenstein said of the musician recipients.
Of the actor honorees, he added, “Debbie Allen moves seamlessly between artistic disciplines and is a cultural ambassador for all while having a monumental impact on dancers of color everywhere… 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.”
The Kennedy Center said it will hold small, in-person events and virtual tributes across its campus, which will include socially-distanced audiences and performances as well as speaking tributes for the honorees. The Kennedy Center plans to host a string of virtual events for a week beginning on May 17th, and it is considering in-person events within that time, depending on Covid-19 protocols. The medallion ceremony for the honorees is expected to take place with a limited audience during that same week.