The Kennedy Center Honors had been returned to the tradition this year with an in-person gala on Sunday night and with the presence of the president for the first time since the year 2016.
The lifetime achievement awards for all of the artistic excellence were have been presented to Motown Records creator by Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” with the mastermind Lorne Michaels, being an actress-singer Bette Midler, opera singer Justino Diaz and folk music legend Joni Mitchell.
This year’s event at the Kennedy Center’s main opera house has represented a return of the tradition, with the President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attending.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump had skipped the show for the first three years that he was in office after several of the artists honored in the year 2017, his first year in the office, threatened to boycott a White House reception as if he participated.
Last year, the pandemic had forced a delay and a major changes to the programs.
The Bidens had drew a sustained standing ovation when they had entered the presidential box in the opera house. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma had performed the national anthem and encouraged all the audience to sing the final lines together.
The theater had been packed to capacity and there were no social distancing restrictions too, but vaccinations and recent negative Covid-19 tests had been required for all who attended.
The tributes featured the testimonials and performances that were kept secret from all the honorees. Mitchell’s tribute featured performances of the songs by Nora Jones, Brandi Carlile, Ellie Goulding and Brittany Howard.
Diaz had been honored with a performance from the opera “Carmen” and had a song from his two daughters, Katya and Natascia.
For Michaels, organizers had put together three “Weekend Update” segments onstage with the multiple generations of mock news anchors Kevin Nealon, Seth Myers and Amy Poehler, and had the current duo of Michel Che and Colin Jost.
Che had joked that Biden will be asleep before the end of the show and Poehler poked at the Toronto-born Michaels by proclaiming that Joni Mitchell will be declared “the best Canadian of all time.”