Today (Dec. 3) Queen Latifah will be honored by peers, alongside four other extraordinary artists, during the 46th annual Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievements in arts and entertainment.
The official class photo of Latifah, Barry Gibb, Renée Fleming, Billy Crystal, and Dionne Warwick was posted by the performing arts center on Sunday, just hours ahead of the star-studded black-tie gala that will be broadcasted on CBS. Each of the honorees was adorned with the prestigious rainbow ribbon medallion.
The multifaceted entertainer is being recognized as one of the premier female voices in hip hop whose talents know no bounds, excelling in television and film as well. “I’m humbled to be included in this incredible list of artists honored by the Kennedy Center. When we started on this journey decades ago, we were often told, ‘No. No, you won’t be able to leave New Jersey. No, if you rap you can’t sing. No, singers can’t become actresses. No, actors can’t also produce,’” said the “U.N.I.T.Y.” rapper in a statement. “To now be recognized amongst so many multi-hyphenates feels unbelievable, not for just me and my team, but for our community. The work the Kennedy Center does is immeasurable, so I’m beyond grateful for this recognition.”
In a statement of her own, Deborah F. Rutter, Kennedy Center President, added that “this year’s slate represents an extraordinary mix of individuals who have redefined their art forms and demonstrated remarkable tenacity and authenticity in becoming an original. Each of them has explored new terrain, stretched artistic boundaries, and most importantly, committed to sharing their gifts with the world.”
She continued, “This year we pay special tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip hop, a uniquely American culture whose constant evolution is one of enduring relevance and impact, reflecting our society as it has grown into an international phenomenon. Hip hop has been an important, thriving art form here at the Center for a number of years; what a privilege it is to bestow an Honors to the First Lady of Hip Hop who has inspired us along the way.”
In February, Latifah was among the slate of trailblazers and new acts who paid tribute to hip hop at the Grammys. Throughout the year, award shows and artists have saluted the genre for 50 years of immeasurable cultural impact.