Canadians Lorne Michaels and Joni Mitchell Among 2021 Kennedy Center Honorees

Lorne Michaels and Joni Mitchell. Photo: Getty Images

The winners of this year’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts lifetime-achievement award were announced today. They are Motown founder Berry Gordy; opera star Justino Díaz, who performed at the Kennedy Center’s grand opening 50 years ago; folk-music hero Joni Mitchell; entertainment icon Bette Midler; and Saturday Night Live’s creator, Lorne Michaels. The Kennedy Center Honors celebrate artists who affect American culture. But this year, two honorees are from Canada: Alberta’s Mitchell and Toronto-born Michaels. “It’s a long way from Saskatoon,” Mitchell responded in part. “Growing up in Detroit, I was not only Black but the ‘black sheep’ of my family,” Gordy wrote in a statement. “I was a failure at everything I did until I was 29 years old … The Arts not only give voice to the voiceless, but connect us, transform us, and soothe our souls.” The 44th annual Kennedy Center Honors will be presented on December 5 at a live gala, followed by a television broadcast. “I am profoundly touched by this honor, in fact, I am stunned and grateful beyond words,” Midler said in a statement. “For many years I have watched this broadcast celebrating the best talent in the performing arts that America has to offer, and I truly never imagined that I would find myself among these swans.”

Lorne Michaels, Joni Mitchell Among Kennedy Center Honorees