According to Pitchfork, legendary folk singer/songwriter Joan Baez is among those to receive the 2020 Kennedy Center Honor. Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein commented on the artist, “Joan Baez breathed new life into the genre and powered rock music’s turn toward social and political consciousness.” Her influential career made Baez a ripe candidate for this prestigious award, which is bestowed upon artists “who have spent their lives elevating the cultural history of our nation and world,” as explained by Rubenstein.
The other 43rd Kennedy Center Honorees are Garth Brooks, Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Allen and violinist Midori. The award ceremony is usually held in December but has been pushed to May 2021 amidst COVID-19 concerns. The event will be comprised of both virtual and in-person events.
Baez was active last year, releasing a home video in which she performed Joseph Prine’s “Hello in There” as a tribute to the artist who was hospitalized at the time. Prine passed away only a few days later. Baez originally covered the song on her album Diamonds and Rust, which was released in 1975.
Other recent work by the Kennedy Center Honor recipient includes her collaboration with punk artist Patti Smith for a cover of Smith’s “People Have the Power.” The 2020 release advocates for change and celebrates the sixth anniversary of Pathway to Paris, a climate awareness charity established by Smith’s daughter, Jesse Paris. The track includes contributions from a multitude of other artists such as Ben Harper, Stella McCartney, Lenny Kaye and Cyndi Lauper.
Photo credit: Alyssa Fried