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Barry Gibb, Queen Latifah, And More Receive 2023 Kennedy Center Honors

“It’s very emotional; there’s something going on in the air, and you just feel it,” Gibb said of feeling the presence of late brothers Robin, Maurice, and Andy Gibb during the event.

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Barry Gibb, Queen Latifah and Dionne Warwick - Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Barry Gibb, Queen Latifah and Dionne Warwick - Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Sir Barry Gibb, Dionne Warwick, Queen Latifah, celebrated soprano Renée Fleming, and Billy Crystal were celebrated at the 2023 Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, December 3.

With President and First Lady Biden both in attendance, the event featured host and 2017 honoree Gloria Estefan, as well as Michael Bublé, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Robert De Niro, Sheila E, Missy Elliott, Cynthia Erivo, Whoopi Goldberg, Gladys Knight, Jay Leno, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rita Moreno, Ego Nwodim, Rob Reiner, Meg Ryan, and Kerry Washington.

“It’s very emotional; there’s something going on in the air, and you just feel it,” Barry Gibb said of feeling the presence of late brothers Robin, Maurice, and Andy Gibb during the event.

President Joe Biden on Barry Gibb - 46th Kennedy Center Honors (White House Reception)

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Also, emotional pre-show was Bublé, who described how Gibb helped his career 20 years ago. “I was working with producer David Foster, and David said, ‘We have no heat, we need a duet.’ And no matter who we sent ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ to, we couldn’t get someone to duet.” Foster got Buble’s version of the song to Gibb, “and two days later my first duet was with Barry Gibb and the Bee Gees, and it changed my life,” Bublé added.

Gibb’s son, Stephen Gibb, gave a heartfelt tribute: “My father somehow was gifted with a heart-focused, supernatural ability to express himself in song, which has allowed him to connect with people on such a mass level.”

Queen Latifah is the first female rapper to receive Honors, and Moreno and Washington explained why during their moving tributes, before a who’s-who of rap and hip-hop icons including Monie Love, MC Lyte, D-Nice, Yo-Yo, and Rapsody turned in a medley including Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y.” and “Ladies First.”

Latifah told Billboard that she was taking in the unique experience before the event. “It’s trippy to be here for myself tonight,” she said. “I feel very honored. I’m very, very humbled. Being honored the same year as hip-hop’s 50th anniversary? Icing on the cake.”

Explore the best of Bee Gees’ discography and the best of Queen Latifah’s discography.

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