President Joe Biden Attends Kennedy Center Honors as Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell & More Are Awarded

Berry Gordy, Lorne Michaels and Justino Díaz were also honored during the annual event

The annual Kennedy Center Honors once again saw participation from the President of the United States when Joe Biden attended the event after his predecessor, Donald Trump, declined to show at the illustrious ceremony during his four years in office.

On Sunday evening, Biden, 79, and Dr. Jill Biden attended the induction, which celebrates individuals involved with the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture.

The couple's appearance did not go unnoticed by many in attendance, including David Letterman, who served as the evening's host. "It is quite nice, very nice, to see the presidential box once again being occupied," Letterman said, per Reuters.

Former President Trump and his wife Melania began skipping the event in 2017, after two of the five honorees — dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade and TV producer Norman Lear — said they would not attend that year's ceremony if Trump was involved, in protest over his administration's proposal to cut funding for the arts.

In response, the Trumps announced they would not attend that year's ceremony or host the traditional accompanying reception at the White House, in order to "allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction."

jill biden, joe biden
Paul Morigi/Getty Images

At this year's ceremony, Joni Mitchell, Bette Mider, Berry Gordy, Lorne Michaels and Justino Díaz were celebrated for their accomplishments. The stars were honored during a reception at the White House, a medallion ceremony at the Library of Congress and an event at the performing arts center's Opera House.

The tributes and performances were filmed for a special, set to air to air on CBS on Dec. 22.

Lorne Michaels, Bette Midler, Justino Diaz, Joni Mitchell, Berry Gordy
Ron Sachs/UPI/Shutterstock

Midler, 76, posted photos from the prestigious ceremony on Instagram, sharing a snap on Instagram with her husband, Martin von Haselberg.

"44th Kennedy Center Honors …what a thrill!" she wrote alongside the pic. The Hocus Pocus star celebrated her fellow honorees in another shot, writing "Look at this group!" of the five in their rainbow ribbons.

On her respective page, Mitchell, 78, also reshared a post originally shared by the Kennedy Center Honors Instagram account. In it, the organization included a quote the singer-songwriter made during her speech.

"I always think that polio was a rehearsal for the rest of my life: I've had to come back several times from things. And this last one was a real whopper," Mitchell said. "But, you know, I'm hobbling along but I'm doing all right!"

"So I don't know really what else to say to you, except this is a glorious building and a fantastic honor, and I'm so pleased to be here — see my old friends and acquaintances," she added. "Enjoy yourselves, I'm gonna go back down and sit down!"

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Earlier this year, the 2020 Kennedy Center Honors were awarded in May after the event was postponed from December 2020 due to safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

There, Dick Van Dyke, Garth Brooks, Debbie Allen, Joan Baez and Midori were honored with medallions at the rescheduled event. Gloria Estefan hosted the ceremony, while cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed. Both artists are prior recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors.

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