This year, LL Cool J will host the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors, which will air on CBS tonight at 8pm ET/PT. While the event will be broadcast tonight, it took place on December 8 at the Kennedy Center Opera House.
This year’s honorees are actor Sally Field, singer Linda Ronstadt, the band Earth, Wind, & Fire, the children’s TV show Sesame Street, and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.
In a recent statement, Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said, “The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates icons who, through their artistry, have left an indelible stamp on our collective cultural consciousness. Earth, Wind & Fire’s hooks and grooves are the foundation of a seminal style that continues to shape our musical landscape; Sally Field has brought us unforgettable characters, both joyous and poignant, for more than five decades; Linda Ronstadt is the defining voice of a generation, spanning genres, languages and continents; Sesame Street continues to revolutionize how children and adults learn about our world; and Michael Tilson Thomas goes far beyond keeping score – he has shaped American music and musical institutions for the 21st century.”
Sally Field has received a number of accolades over the course of her career, including two Oscars, three Emmys, two Golden Globes, and a SAG award. She has also been nominated for a Tony Award and two BAFTAS.
Field got her start in the comedy series Gidget in 1965. Fourteen years later, she earned an Oscar for Best Actress for Norma Rae. She later took home a second Oscar for Places in the Heart.
In a recent profile for The Washington Post, Field said of the many acting jobs she’s had over the years, “The roles I cared about deeply I had to fight for… They never really came to me.”
Over the course of her illustrious career, Ronstadt has earned 10 Grammys, three AMAs, two Academy of Country Music Awards, an Emmy, and an ALMA Award. Some of her greatest hits include “Blue Bayou”, “Don’t Know Much”, and “You’re No Good.”
In 2011, she took home The Latin Recording Academy’s Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dolly Parton is quoted by Texas Public Radio as saying of Linda, “Linda has the ability to hear a song and claim it… If you love [a song] like that, you get inside it. You become it.”
Earth, Wind, & Fire
Tonight, Earth, Wind, & Fire will be the first African-American group to receive a Kennedy Center Honor. Three of the band’s original members– Philip Bailey, Ralph Johnson, and Verdine White, will be there to accept the honor.
The band’s founder, Maurice White, passed away in 2016.
Johnson shared with Billboard, “You can’t play any Earth Wind & Fire songs without Maurice’s DNA being on it, so he’s always here and we’re always celebrating him and his vision… People are still coming together and having fun.”
Sesame Street will also be receiving a Kennedy Center Honor tonight. This marks the first time a children’s TV show has received the accolade.
The series debuted in 1969 and now airs new episodes on HBO. The prestigious award was accepted by co-founders of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney, and Lloyd Morrisett. Caroll Spinney, who voiced Big Bird and Grouch, passed away just hours before the ceremony at age 85.
Michael Tilson Thomas
Thomas is a conductor, pianist, and composer who works as the music director of the San Francisco Symphony, which he has done for the past 24 years.
74 today, Thomas studied piano at the University of Southern California. He has become well-known for his interpretations of the works of Gustav Mahler.
Be sure to tune into the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors, airing tonight on CBS at 8pm ET/PT.