Watch Joni Mitchell, Bette Midler, Berry Gordy Receive Kennedy Center Honors
Joni Mitchell, Bette Midler, and Berry Gordy were among those that received the Kennedy Center Honors last night during an event at the Kennedy Center’s main opera house in Washington, DC. As the Associated Press reports, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were in attendance, the first time a sitting president attended the ceremony since 2016.
Mitchell’s songs were covered by Norah Jones, Brandi Carlile, Ellie Goulding, and Brittany Howard during the ceremony, and Herbie Hancock was on-hand to pay tribute to the legend, talking about how her childhood polio infection influenced her guitar-playing. During her speech, Mitchell referred to her 2015 brain aneurysm and gave a brief health update: “I think the polio was a rehearsal for the rest of my life,” she said, per NPR. “I’ve had to come back several times, for one thing, and this last one was a real whopper. But you know, I’m hobbling along there. I’m doing all right.”
Midler had testimonials from Goldie Hawn and Barbara Hershey, and a performance of “The Wind Beneath My Wings” by Billy Porter. Gordy was honored with performances of Motown hits by Andra Day, Stevie Wonder, and Smokey Robinson, and the night ended with a group performance of Wonder’s “Higher Ground.”
Also honored at the ceremony were Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels — with appearances from Weekend Update hosts from throughout the years, including Kevin Nealon, Seth Myers, Amy Poehler, Michael Che, and Colin Jost — and opera singer Justino Diaz.
The full Kennedy Center Honors gala will be broadcast on CBS on December 22, but here’s a clip from the event now: