Garth Brooks Named as 2021 Kennedy Center Honoree

Garth Brooks has been named as one of the artists selected to receive the Kennedy Center Honors this year, along with several fellow honorees including artist, choreographer, and actress Debbie Allen, singer-songwriter and activist Joan Baez, violinist Midori and actor Dick Van Dyke. Brooks was announced as one of the recipients of the 43rd Kennedy Center Honors on Wednesday, Jan. 13, and will be honored alongside his fellow honorees in May. The annual ceremony is traditionally held in December but was postponed due to the pandemic.

"President John F. Kennedy was a childhood hero of mine, and he has continued to be through every stage of my life. He knew that a nation is defined by its culture and a culture is defined by its arts," Brooks said in a statement. "I have watched many of my heroes sit in that booth during their ceremony, I have even had the joyous honor of singing for some of them on their special night. The hope is to have contributed to humanity like my heroes have, to inspire us to be the most we can be as individuals, global citizens, and a part of human history. But most of all, to simply laugh, cry, love, and dream through music...I have been blessed to do just that as a fan and as an artist."

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Brooks is the top-selling solo artist in US history and has been named CMA Entertainer of the Year an unprecedented seven times. He is the first and only artist in history to receive nine Diamond Awards and has been certified by the RIAA with 157 million album sales. In 2020, he was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

The country icon has previously paid tribute to multiple Kennedy Center Honorees including James Taylor (2016), Billy Joel (2013), and Loretta Lynn (2003) along with previous Mark Twain Prize recipient Jay Leno (2014). The 43rd annual celebration will take place from May 17-22 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.


"The center's entire campus will come alive with small, in-person events and re-envisioned virtual tributes," a statement read, via Billboard. "Featuring multiple events for physically-distant audiences in locations across the Kennedy Center's campus…Programs for each event will encompass both performances and speaking tributes for the honorees. Virtual events will also be held throughout the week beginning May 17, and the viability of additional in-person events will be considered as COVID-19 safety protocols evolve over the upcoming months...An honoree medallion ceremony for the honorees and a limited audience will be hosted by the Kennedy Center during [the week of] May 17–22."