'SNL' producer Lorne Michaels, Bette Midler, Berry Gordy among this year's class for 44th Kennedy Center Honors

Longtime Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, stage and screen legend Bette Midler, and Motown founder Berry Gordy are among the 2021 class for the 44th Annual Kennedy Center Honors.

Among those names who will be honored "for lifetime artistic achievements" will be singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, and opera baritone Justino Diaz, when the awards show gets underway on December 5 in Washington D.C.

"This year's Honorees represent the unifying power of the Arts and surely remind us of that which binds us together as human beings," said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. "These artists are equal parts genius, inspiration, and entertainment."

Chairman David M. Rubenstein said Gordy, "brought the quintessential soulfulness of Detroit into every home in America, elevating the Motown sound to become a national treasure."

He said Michaels, "created the most enduring 'must-see television' with Saturday Night Live," which is "a show that is both mirror and muse for life in America."

Rubenstein called Midler, "an artistic tour de force and America’s Divine Miss M...entertaining millions with her wondrous voice and trademark comedic wit," and described Mitchell as, "one of the most influential singer-songwriters and cultural figures in 20th-century popular music."

The 44th annual honors in December will likely be broadcast by CBS in 2022.

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