Garth Brooks will headline the latest class of Kennedy Center Honors recipients when the annual event returns 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," said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein (as quoted by CBS). "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."
Per PBS, the 43rd annual Kennedy Center Honors will be filmed in Washington D.C. between May 17-22 as "multiple events for physically distant audiences" across the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts campus. Each day will feature "small, in-person events and re-envisioned virtual tributes." CBS will air portions of the multi-day event on June 6.
"A dinner with 2,000 people in the lobby will not happen," Deborah Rutter, the Kennedy Center's president told the New York Times. "We're only going to do this in the most safe and respectful way."
The event was originally slated for December 2020, but it got postponed due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Brooks becomes just the third Oklahoman selected for the medallion ceremony, following McEntire and prima ballerina Maria Tallchief.
In addition, Brooks joins a long line of entertainers that impacted his music, namely Billy Joel.
"President John F. Kennedy was a childhood hero of mine, and he has continued to be through every stage of my life. He knew that a nation is defined by its culture and a culture is defined by its arts," Brooks said in a statement."I have watched many of my heroes sit in that booth during their ceremony, I have even had the joyous honor of singing for some of them on their special night. The hope is to have contributed to humanity like my heroes have, to inspire us to be the most we can be as individuals, global citizens, and a part of human history. But most of all, to simply laugh, cry, love, and dream through music. ... I have been blessed to do just that as a fan and as an artist."