Dec. 6 (UPI) — Stage and screen icon Bette Midler, Motown founder Berry Gordy, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell and opera great Justino Díaz were celebrated at the annual Kenny Center Honors gala.
The event took place on Sunday at the Kennedy Center’s main opera house in Washington, D.C.
David Letterman served as the host. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden were in attendance at the event, which honors lifetime artistic achievements. Former President Donald Trump had not attended the event during his four years in office.
The gala featured tributes and performances to the honorees that will be aired as a 2-hour special on CBS and Paramount+ on Dec. 22.
Midler received tributes from Goldie Hawn and Barbara Hershey along with a performance of her song “The Wind Beneath My Wings” by Billy Porter. Gordy received performances from Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Andra Day.
Seth Myers, Amy Poehler, Kevin Nealon, Michael Che and Colin Jost paid tribute to Michaels with renditions of SNL’s Weekend Update segment.
Mitchell’s tribute included performances by Nora Jones, Brandi Carlile and Ellie Goulding while Diaz’s tribute included performances from his daughters Katya and Natascia.
“I was mesmerized by the idea that someone would get up in a pool of light and be completely and utterly transformed. And that, when the light hit them, they had something not just to say — but something to reveal,” Midler said onstage.
“Not only the stars, I am so grateful to all of those great unsung heroes in Motown that you don’t hear of, the people behind the scenes. I am so grateful to them, for loving me, loving Motown,” Gordy said.