By Lenore T. Adkins, Special to the AFRO
The John F. Kennedy Center will recognize several legends at the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors. The co-creators behind hip-hopera “Hamilton” will be acknowledged with unique honors for producing a groundbreaking work. Jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter will receive the 2018 Kennedy Center Honors for his lifetime artistic achievements. Cher, country singer Reba McEntire and composer/pianist Philip Glass join Shorter as fellow honorees.
The four “Hamilton” co-creators receiving Kennedy Center Honors as innovative creators of a transformative work defying categorization are: writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, and music director Alex Lacamoire.
“The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes exceptional artists who have made enduring and indelible marks on our culture,” Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement. “The creators of Hamilton have literally and figuratively changed the face of American culture with daringly original, breathtakingly relevant work.”
The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical has become a cultural phenomenon, and a traveling cast is now performing “Hamilton” to packed audiences at the Kennedy Center through Sept. 16.
“For the board to break with its custom of honoring an individual and choosing instead to bestow this recognition on a single piece of work is humbling beyond our wildest expectations for our show,” the co-creators said in a statement.
“I’m pretty sure Rita Moreno, ‘mi reina,’ snuck into their offices and stuffed the ballot box,” Miranda added in a statement.
The accolades for the “Hamilton” co-creators make an unprecedented statement about an unprecedented work that “transcends cultural boundaries and tells America’s stories in a powerful and contemporary way,” Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said.
Likewise, Wayne Shorter is “a seminal artist who, as both a composer and saxophonist, has carried forward the mantle of jazz,” Rubenstein said.
Shorter’s career has spanned seven decades and he’s collaborated with many heavy hitters, including Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, and Esperanza Spalding, and he is the recipient of 11 Grammy Awards and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, which he received in 2015.
Shorter has performed several times at the Kennedy Center throughout his storied career, most recently in Nov. 2016.
“Being inducted into the prestigious ranks of the Kennedy Center honorees will forever remain one of the great moments in my life,” Shorter said in a statement. “Guided by compassion and wisdom, I strive to create value for others and all life on this planet – not only through my art – but by igniting the glow of light that elevates the human condition to its noblest form.”
CBS will televise the 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 26.