Kennedy Center Honors on TV June 6!

Dick, Minori, Joan, Garth, Debbie

Kennedy Center Honors 2020Usually, the Kennedy Center Honors take place in early December. They are then edited and broadcast between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It’s one of our family traditions.

But because of COVID, the ceremonies were postponed, and I lost track of the event. My wife said she recorded CBS This Morning this past week because Dick Van Dyke was on. Even though I knew Dick was one of the honorees, since I didn’t watch the news segment, I didn’t make the connection.

It wasn’t until I saw this interview of DVD by Al Roker that I decided to see, “When is the KCH airing anyway?”

It’s June 6, 8 pm EDT on CBS! Per the New York Times: “The ceremony, usually held and televised in December, was moved to May, and split over several days. Then the organizers and producers began stitching together a mixture of recorded at-home tributes and in-person performances across the center…

“If the Kennedy Center Honors had to be stripped of much of its glamour this month to accommodate rapidly changing coronavirus health guidelines, the subdued ceremony offered a chance for the honorees to help usher in the reopening of the nation’s cultural institutions after a grueling year for the arts.”

The honorees

Debbie Allen: I first knew her from the TV musical-drama Fame (1982-1987). She played dance teacher Lydia Grant – great first name, that – and choreographed much of the program.

She produced more than half of the episodes for The Cosby Show spinoff A Different World (1988-1993).

Since 2011, I’ve watched her in her recurring role as Dr. Catherine Avery on Grey’s Anatomy, for which she is also an executive producer/director.

Joan Baez: Someone who was a HUGE part of my growing up, as I noted here when she turned 70. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. The website notes: “Joan Baez breathed new life into folk music in the 1960s, powering rock music’s turn toward social and political consciousness.

“Baez’s unwavering dedication to activism shows that volume isn’t the only way to be loud—and totally rock and roll.” As Joan said in December 2016: “As part of the folk music boom, which contributed to and influenced the rock revolution of the sixties, I am proud that some of the songs I sang made their way into the rock lexicon.”

Garth Brooks: He is a MASSIVELY successful artist, ostensibly country but with crossover appeal. He has nine albums that have sold over 10 million copies each. “According to the RIAA, he is the best-selling solo albums artist in the United States with 156 million domestic units sold, ahead of Elvis Presley, and is second only to the Beatles in total album sales overall.”

He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011, and the Country Music Hall of Fame the following year. Out of curiosity, I bought a box set of a half dozen of his studios; it was under $25. While I didn’t love them all, there were some solid songs I enjoyed.

Not a fiddle

Midori: Sometimes, there’s a KCH awardee I know much less well than the others. In this case, it’s this concert violinist. From her website: “Midori is a visionary artist, activist, and educator who explores and builds connections between music and the human experience and breaks with traditional boundaries which makes her one of the most outstanding violinists of our time.

“As a leading concert violinist for over 35 years, Midori regularly transfixes audiences around the world, bringing together graceful precision and intimate expression.”

Dick Van Dyke: Him I know about. I’ve written about his seminal TV show, which I own on DVD, so I know more than bupkis about the series.

I never saw Mary Poppins until late 2011.

He appeared in the late Carl Reiner’s documentary If You’re Not In the Obit, Eat Breakfast in 2019.

I had forgotten this about the early career of Walter Cronkite: he had a “tenure as a morning show newsreader having dialogues with a lion puppet and Dick Van Dyke.”