The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is holding a scaled-down version of its prestigious Kennedy Center Honors this year. Usually the event is held in December, but due to the pandemic, the 2020 edition was pushed back to May of this year, with a broadcast to follow June 6 on CBS. Several noteworthy musicians are among this year’s honorees: the influential folk singer and activist Joan Baez (who just turned 80 the other day), the country music superstar Garth Brooks, and the violin virtuoso Midori. The class is rounded out by Debbie Allen and Dick Van Dyke, still alive and kicking at age 95.
Traditionally the US president attends the Kennedy Center Honors, though Donald Trump never did throughout his tenure in office. Joe Biden is expected to resume the tradition, though this year’s event will be significantly different than the galas of old thanks to COVID-19. Performances will be filmed ahead of time on the Kennedy Center campus, perhaps with a small live audience, or remotely for honorees who can’t make the trip to Washington, DC. Also, Deborah Rutter, the Kennedy Center’s president, tells the New York Times, “A dinner with 2,000 people in the lobby will not happen. We’re only going to do this in the most safe and respectful way.”