Washington gala to honor top artists including Queen Latifah, Billy Crystal

Monday, Dec 04, 2023

WASHINGTON: A diverse class of music legends plus comedian Billy Crystal were set to give Washington a glow-up on Sunday, in an evening celebrating the arts in the company of President Joe Biden for the annual Kennedy Center Honors.

Hollywood A-listers gather once a year for a rare night of glitz in the US capital -- generally known more for buttoned-up business casual than black tie -- to celebrate their icons.

This year they include the beloved actor Crystal as well as rap pioneer Queen Latifah, soul legend Dionne Warwick, star soprano Renee Fleming and the sole surviving Bee Gee, Barry Gibb. The annual event at the Kennedy Center -- Washington´s performing arts complex that serves as a living monument to slain president John F. Kennedy -- will see the cream of the cultural crop mix with top politicians including Biden.

The inductees will be honored with seats in the opera house´s presidential box as they receive the highest US arts award, which is now in its 46th year. The Grammy-winning Latifah -- an actress and singer as well as a rapper, whose titles also include producer and label president -- released her debut album “All Hail The Queen” in 1989, making waves with its hit single “Ladies First.”

It set the stage for her trailblazing career in hip-hop and eventual success in acting and producing. Now 53, Queen Latifah has performed three times at the Kennedy Center Honors, for her peers LL Cool J, Tina Turner and Barbra Streisand.