Crystal, in a statement, said he was “overwhelmed” to be chosen.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will attend the Kennedy Center Honors gala on Sunday night as a new group of performers and artists are receiving the illustrious annual distinction.
The 2023 honorees include comedian and actor Billy Crystal, opera singer Renée Fleming, the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb, rapper and actress Queen Latifah and singer Dionne Warwick.
“This year’s slate represents an extraordinary mix of individuals who have redefined their art forms and demonstrated remarkable tenacity and authenticity in becoming an original,” the Kennedy Center president, Deborah Rutter, said in a statement.
Crystal, in his own statement, said he was “overwhelmed” to be chosen — a sentiment shared by Latifah, who said her selection mattered to more than just her.
“To now be recognized amongst so many multi-hyphenates feels unbelievable, not for just me and my team, but for our community,” she said.
The president and first lady hosted a reception for Crystal, Fleming, Gibb, Latifah and Warwick earlier on Sunday at the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff attended, and Emhoff will also attend the evening gala with the Bidens.
“As simple as it is profound, performing arts are more than just sound and scene — they reflect who we are as Americans and as human beings,” Joe Biden said at the reception. “That’s especially true for more than 200 Kennedy Center honorees over the past 46 years, who have helped shape how we see ourselves, how we see each other and how we see our world.”
One by one, the president gave brief highlights about Crystal, Fleming, Gibb, Latifah and Warwick. He again noted the recent death of former first lady Rosalynn Carter, calling her “a champion of the performing arts.”
The gala ceremony, on Sunday night in Washington, will be hosted by Gloria Estefan, who was an honoree in 2017.
Last year’s class included George Clooney, Amy Grant, Gladys Knight, Tania León and U2.
The Kennedy Center Honors gala is customarily attended by the president, though Donald and Melania Trump skipped it while in the White House. The event was also disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The show that night will be taped and air on CBS later in December.