New York and New Jersey are well represented in this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, with Billy Crystal, Dionne Warwick and Queen Latifah among the selections announced Thursday.
Bee Gees member Barry Gibb and soprano Renee Fleming were also chosen for the 46th edition of the annual honor, which recognizes an artist’s lifetime contributions to American culture.
Crystal, who was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx and Long Island, is a six-time Emmy winner and a Tony recipient whose films include “When Harry Met Sally” and “Monsters, Inc.”
“I am overwhelmed to be part of this fantastic group of artists,” Crystal, 75, said of the Kennedy Center honor. “I started performing when I was five years old, making my parents and family laugh. Those laughs have carried me my entire life and career. I so wish they could be at the Kennedy Center for this glorious occasion.”
Born and raised in East Orange, N.J., Warwick is a five-time Grammy winner whose chart-topping songs include “That’s What Friends Are For” and “Then Came You.”
“I’m exceptionally happy to be honored by the Kennedy Center,” Warwick, 82, said in a statement. “It’s very exciting to be recognized for my contributions to the music industry for the past 60 years.”
Queen Latifah, who was born in Newark, won a Grammy for the hit song “U.N.I.T.Y.” Her many projects as an actress include the films “Chicago” and “Last Holiday,” and the CBS series “The Equalizer.”
“When we started on this journey decades ago, we were often told, ‘No’. No, you won’t be able to leave New Jersey,” Queen Latifah, 53, said. “No, if you rap you can’t sing. No, singers can’t become actresses. No, actors can’t also produce. To now be recognized amongst so many multi-hyphenates feels unbelievable, not for just me and my team, but for our community.”
The Kennedy Center Honors, which began in 1978, recognize five recipients every year at a December gala in Washington, D.C. Last year’s honorees were George Clooney, U2, Gladys Knight, Tania León and Amy Grant.
Other honorees over the years include Tom Hanks, Rita Moreno, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Ella Fitzgerald, Robert De Niro and Katharine Hepburn.