The annual ceremony celebrates the stars for their lifetime artistic achievements.
The 46th annual Kennedy Center Honors includes hip-hop royalty, two of pop music's biggest icons, a comedic genius and one of opera music's greatest voices.
On Thursday, CBS Mornings exclusively broke the news and shared this year's five honorees who will be recognized for their lifetime artistic achievements.
The Kennedy Center announced that the "First Lady of Hip-Hop" Queen Latifah, comedy legend Billy Crystal, Bee Gees member Barry Gibb, "America's Soprano" Renée Fleming, and pop music trailblazer Dionne Warwick, will all be honored during this year’s ceremony in Washington, D.C. Fellow honoree Gloria Estefan will return to host the ceremony.
The honorees all celebrated the news with statements.
"I’m humbled to be included in this incredible list of artists honored by the Kennedy Center. 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," Queen Latifah, whose real name is Dana Owens, said. "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."
Crystal shared his excitement about the honor, stating, "I am overwhelmed to be part of this fantastic group of artists. 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. It has been a thrilling lifetime of performing in so many different arenas and my heart is full of gratitude to the Kennedy Center, my wife Janice, my children and grandchildren, our family and friends, and all the amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. And finally, of course, my wonderful fans."
Fleming celebrated the new by reflecting on her career.
"How thrilling to join the company of legendary artists who have received this recognition. This award demonstrates the richness and range of the performing arts in our country, and the Kennedy Center’s celebration is a powerful expression of our culture," she shared. "Music has defined the arc of my life, giving voice to an introverted child, taking me to places I never dreamed of visiting and people I never dreamed of meeting. Most of all, it has shown me the enormous potential for healing and joy that the arts offer everyone. Having looked with awe at the Honorees in that box at the Kennedy Center Opera House, I’m incredibly grateful to think I will be among them."
Gibb celebrated the occasion with a special wish for his brothers and bandmates, Robin and Maurice.
"This is a wonderful honor! It’s hard to be proud and humble at the same time. It is one of the most special moments in my life and something that I will always cherish. When I think back over 50 years to our beginnings in Redcliffe, Queensland, I could never have expected this to happen in my life," he said. "Receiving the Kennedy Center Honors is something that everyone hopes might happen one day. I’ve often thought about but never dreamed it could come true. Thank you to all those who made this dream a reality. I wish my brothers were here so that they could’ve shared in this special moment."
Warwick, who has recently been dubbed the "Queen of Twitter," celebrated her latest accomplishment after 60 years in entertainment.
"I’m exceptionally happy to be honored by the Kennedy Center. It’s very exciting to be recognized for my contributions to the music industry for the past 60 years," she mused.
The 46th annual Kennedy Center Honors will take place at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 3, and will broadcast on CBS and Paramount+ at at later date.