Linda Ronstadt Among 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees

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The 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees

Linda Ronstadt is among the five Honorees who will receive the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the selection today (July 18) of the recipients to be honored at the 42nd annual national celebration of the arts on December 8. The others are musical group Earth, Wind & Fire, actress Sally Field, children’s television program Sesame Street, and conductor and musical visionary Michael Tilson Thomas.

The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 42nd consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special on Sunday, December 15 at 8 p.m. ET.

“The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates icons who, through their artistry, have left an indelible stamp on our collective cultural consciousness,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein in the announcement, calling Ronstadt “the defining voice of a generation, spanning genres, languages, and continents.”

It continued: “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; 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.”

The 42nd annual Kennedy Center Honors marks the first time a television program will receive the award. The co-founders of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney and Dr. Lloyd Morrisett, will accept the Kennedy Center Honors on behalf of the show, Muppets creator Jim Henson, seminal Muppets artists Caroll Spinney and Frank Oz, and the thousands of creatives who have built the program’s 50-year legacy.

On December 8, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, the 2019 Honorees will be saluted by leading performers from New York, Hollywood, and the arts capitals of the world. Seated in the Box Tier of the iconic Kennedy Center Opera House, the Honorees will accept the recognition and gratitude of their peers through performances and tributes.

The Kennedy Center Honors medallions will be presented on Saturday, December 7, the night before the Gala, at a State Department dinner.

Ronstadt, who turned 73 on July 15, is arguably the most versatile vocalist of the modern era, having forged a four-decade career which established her as one of the very important artists in one of the most creative periods in the history of modern music. She has broadened the latitudes of the pop singer, expanding the vocalist’s canvas to include country, rock ‘n’ roll, big band, jazz, opera, Broadway standards, and Mexican and Afro- Cuban influences. With worldwide album sales of more than 50 million, at least 31 gold and platinum records, and 10 Grammy Awards®, Ronstadt is the consummate American artist.

Related: A rare interview with Linda Ronstadt

Ronstadt sang her last concert in 2009, and shortly thereafter announced her retirement from singing. Unlike most retirements, however, Ronstadt’s has been quite busy. Released in 2013, her book, Simple Dreams, A Musical Memoir, made the New York Times best-seller list and kicked off an extensive book tour. In December of 2013, Ronstadt was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and during the summer of 2014, she was honored by President Barack Obama, who awarded her the National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony on July 28, 2014. From 2014 to late 2018, Ronstadt toured occasionally with her highly acclaimed one-woman show, A Conversation with Linda Ronstadt. Featuring photos, audio, and selected video, Ronstadt recounted episodes from various times in her long career, as well as her thoughts on music and what it has meant in her life.

Related: Ronstadt narrated the Eagles 2016 Kennedy Center honors

With a career that has spanned more than five decades, Field is a two-time Academy Award® and three-time Emmy Award®–winning actress, who has portrayed dozens of iconic roles on both large and small screens. Highlights from her extensive film credits include Lincoln; Forrest Gump; Steel Magnolias; Places in the Heart; Absence of Malice; Norma Rae; Mrs. Doubtfire; and Punchline. Her TV roles include Sybil, Gidget, and ER, and most recently the Netflix series Maniac.

“You like me!”

Over their five-decade history, Earth, Wind & Fire has sold out concerts all around the globe, scored eight #1 hits, and sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, making them one of the best-selling musical groups of all time. The group has won nine Grammy Awards® including one for Lifetime Achievement in 2012. In 2000, EWF was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, cementing their lasting impact on popular music.

The Honors recipients recognized for their contributions to American culture through the performing arts—whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television—are confirmed by the Executive Committee of the Center’s Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.

The Honoree selection process includes solicitation of recommendations from the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees, the artistic community, and the general public. This year’s selected Honorees were chosen based on the recommendation of the Center’s Special Honors Advisory Committee, which is chaired by David Bohnett and includes David M. Rubenstein, Deborah F. Rutter, Michael Lombardo, Cappy McGarr, and Shonda Rhimes, along with past Honors recipients and distinguished artists Julie Andrews, Martina Arroyo, Gloria Estefan, Herbie Hancock, Twyla Tharp, and John Williams.

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