Garth Brooks, Dick Van Dyke and More Receive Kennedy Center Honor at 43rd Annual Ceremony

by Emily Morgan

Garth Brooks and legendary actor Dick Van Dyke were two of the five guests honored at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

The other honorees were Joan Baez, violinist Midori, and choreographer, and director Debbie Allen.

According to Brooks, he was delighted to get to “fly the country music flag.” He was also thrilled to be in the presence of his legendary “classmates,” he said.

“Everybody knows my sister was probably the greatest influence on me, music-wise,” Garth Brooks recently said. “I wanted to be her when I was a kid, ’cause she was always so cool. And Joan Baez is, like, [a] major influence for my sister. So to sit in the same booth with Miss Joan is going to be friggin’ awesome.”

Ahead of the event, when reporters asked Garth Brooks about accepting the honor alongside Dick Van Dyke, he said, “I don’t know how you get any cooler than that. So, this is going to be a fun, fun weekend.”

All the honorees called receiving the lifetime artistic achievement award a unique honor, despite having already accomplished so much, Garth Brooks joked.”I don’t mind being the weak link on the chain. I’m in the chain!”

The Kennedy Center Honors ceremony usually takes place in December. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization postponed the event for 2021. 

Although this year’s ceremony was able to proceed, the event organizers still had to maintain limited capacity due to the looming pandemic. 

Garth Brooks, Other Legends Given Kennedy Center Honor

In place of the usual several-hour event, followed by dinner, Friday’s ceremony lasted 90 minutes with a smaller audience. The organizers split the musical acts and tributes into two other nights.

Typically, the State Department hosts the event. Yet, this year, the event’s organizer’s moved it to the Kennedy Center’s opera house, with 120 people spread out at tables.

The recipients also received short tributes and go iconic medallions to take home. Several of the artists said they hoped the ceremony would be one of a series of benchmarks in the country’s cultural reopening.

Legendary singer Gloria Estefan hosted the ceremony, and world-renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma performed. The two are both previous Kennedy Center Honors recipients.

Garth Brooks and the other recipients posed together on stage for a photo. According to Allen, she thought the event was more involved than usual.

“We’re spending a lot more time together than other groups of honorees,” she said. CBS will broadcast the entire event on June 6.