Two New Jersey greats — Dionne Warwick and Queen Latifah — will be feted at the 46th Kennedy Center Honors.
The iconic Grammy-winning singer and Grammy, Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor, rapper, singer and producer will be honored in December, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. announced Thursday.
“I’m exceptionally happy to be honored by the Kennedy Center,” Warwick said in a statement. “It’s very exciting to be recognized for my contributions to the music industry for the past 60 years.”
The 82-year-old New Jersey talent, who rose to fame with her hit song “Don’t Make Me Over” in 1962, has sold more than 100 million records, including many collaborations with Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
She is also known for her advocacy for AIDS awareness — her 1985 No. 1 song “That’s What Friends are For” with Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder, raised tens of millions of dollars for AIDS research. As her 2021 documentary “Don’t Make Me Over” noted, Warwick also made President Ronald Reagan say “AIDS” out loud.
Later, Warwick drew attention for her witty, humorous social media presence, emerging as a Queen of Twitter.
In 1984, Warwick, who has separately performed five times at the Kennedy Center, honored Lena Horne at the Kennedy Center Honors, and in 2002, she honored Elizabeth Taylor at the ceremony.
Latifah, 53, born Dana Owens, made her name as a rapper and actor. She won a Grammy for best solo rap performance in 1994 for “U.N.I.T.Y”.
Since then, she has graced the big and small screens, starring in TV shows like “Living Single” and “The Equalizer” and movies like “Set it Off,” “Bessie,” “Bringing Down the House,” “Girls Trip” and “The Last Holiday.” The producer also appeared in TV specials “The Wiz Live!” and “The Little Mermaid Live!”
She received an Oscar nomination for her performance as Matron Mama Morton in the 2002 movie musical “Chicago.”
The celebrated Jersey hip-hop pioneer, who also won an Emmy for “Bessie,” honored Tina Turner at the Kennedy Center in 2005, Barbra Streisand in 2008 and LL Cool J in 2017.
“I’m humbled to be included in this incredible list of artists honored by the Kennedy Center,” Latifah said in a statement. “When we started on this journey decades ago, we were often told, ‘No’. No, you won’t be able to leave New Jersey. 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 work the Kennedy Center does is immeasurable so I’m beyond grateful for this recognition.”
The 2023 honors, hosted by Gloria Estefan (who was honored in 2017 and previously hosted the honors twice), will also recognize the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
The ceremony is set for Sunday, December 3 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C.
“As the ‘First Lady of Hip Hop,’ Queen Latifah shaped and innovated the art form in its earliest days, representing Black women everywhere and using the idiom to become a powerful voice for change,” David M. Rubenstein, the Kennedy Center chairman, said in a statement.
“Soulful songstress Dionne Warwick has blazed a trail with her signature voice, scintillating presence, and trove of hits that has become a soundtrack of inspiration for generations of artists and audiences,” Rubenstein said.
The 46th Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+.
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