1970's icons Linda Ronstadt and Earth, Wind, & Fire are among those set to be saluted later this year with the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor. The Associated Press reported that in addition to the legendary musicians, the 2019 honors include actress Sally Field, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, and the children’s TV show Sesame Street — now celebrating its 50th year on PBS.
Linda Ronstadt said of the upcoming honor: “I don’t think a lot about prizes. You do the work for the work.”
Earth, Wind, & Fire's bassist Verdine White went on to say, “We’re part of the culture. We’re part of people’s lives.The music makes people happy. When you come to a show you leave happier than when you came.”
It remains an open question whether President Trump or the First Lady will attend the event, having skipped out of the two previous tributes — the first of which had several honorees refusing to accept the honor should he be in attendance. The Kennedy Center’s president, Deborah Rutter, said “They are always invited,” she said. “He is the president of the United States of America, and it would be good to have these extraordinary individuals acknowledged by the president.”
A gala concert and tribute will take place in Washington, D.C at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and will be broadcast on December 15th on CBS.
When we last caught up with Earth, Wind, & Fire's Ralph Johnson and Philip Bailey, they reflected on the group's extraordinary longevity in the music business: (Ralph Johnson): “I think we like what we do. We like each other. We love our integrity. We try to have always put a lot of love and integrity into our work. (Philip Bailey): “And it’s no secret that God has been good to us, so we just are able to do what we love to do. Consider it a real honor.”
During his 2014 speech inducting Linda Ronstadt into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the late, great Glenn Frey touched upon how the Eagles learned their craft while serving as her backing band: “Obviously the first thing we all noticed was what a great singer she was. And for Don (Henley) and I, to be the two harmony singers to be singing with all these incredible songs that she loved, y’know, was just the step in the right direction for us. We both loved harmony singing, and to be able to do it with Linda was a treat.”