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Joni Mitchell and Bette Midler feted at Kennedy Center Honors

44th Annual Kennedy Center Honors: Formal Artist's Dinner Arrivals And Group Photo
Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell and Bette Midler were awarded Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday.

The Canadian folk singer made a rare public appearance in Washington D.C. on Sunday to collect her award, which recognises a lifetime of achievement in the performing arts. Her fellow honourees included singer/actress Midler, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, Motown founder Berry Gordy and opera singer Justino Diaz.

U.S. President Joe Biden hosted a black-tie reception for the honorees at the White House – restoring a tradition Donald Trump did not uphold – before they were celebrated at a four-hour gala event at the Kennedy Center.

Mitchell’s career achievements were feted by four performers – Brandi Carlile sang River, Brittany Howard gave her rendition of Both Sides Now, Ellie Goulding performed Big Yellow Taxi, and Norah Jones sang The Circle Game and A Case of You.

Midler’s portion of the gala featured a medley from Billy Porter, who sang on the soundtrack to her 1996 movie The First Wives Club, music from the Broadway show Hello Dolly!, and Kelli O’Hara’s rendition of Midler’s song Wind Beneath My Wings, from the film Beaches. Midler also received tributes from Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, and Scarlett Johansson.

SNL cast members past and present, such as Steve Martin, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Kenan Thompson and Jimmy Fallon, celebrated Michaels, while Paul Simon performed America.

Elsewhere, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson performed in honour of Gordy, who launched their careers, while Diaz was celebrated with performances from Carmen and Faust.

The gala event will be televised on 22 December.

– Cover Media