Hartt Alumna Dionne Warwick Recipient of 2023 Kennedy Center Honors
One of The Hartt School’s most recognizable names—and one of the most celebrated vocalists of all time—has received another honor. This past summer, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the 46th honorees for lifetime artistic achievements, one of whom was Dionne Warwick. Other honorees included actor and comedian Billy Crystal; celebrated soprano Renée Fleming; singer-songwriter and Bee Gees band member Barry Gibb; and actress, singer, and rapper Queen Latifah. On December 3, these honorees were bestowed with the official honor.
At the ceremony, which also included a reception at the White House, Warwick was quoted as saying, “I must say, it is a privilege to wear this medallion. It means that the recognition of the 62 years that I have given to you is now being recognized. I want to take this opportunity to also congratulate my fellow recipients of this magnificent honor tonight.”
The ceremony, described by Billboard as “a full-scale entertainment spectacle befitting the nation’s highest honor bestowed for artistic achievement,” attracted plenty of star power. Host and 2017 honoree Gloria Estefan, 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 were among those who took the stage to fete the night’s guests of honor.
The Kennedy Center Honors will air on Wednesday, Dec. 27, from 9 to 11 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific time) on the CBS Television Network and will be available at that time—and later on demand— on the CBS app and Paramount+.
“There simply is no song that Dionne Warwick cannot sing,” record producer Clive Davis said. “The lexicon of her hits is as great and as deep as any artist who has ever recorded.” Past Kennedy Center honorees Debbie Allen (2020) and Herbie Hancock (2013) bestowed accolades for Warwick’s humanitarian activism, including her collaboration with Knight, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder on “That’s What Friends Are For”—the 1985 hit and first recording dedicated to AIDS awareness.
Warwick attended The Hartt School beginning in 1959, but her early success as a singer catapulted her to fame early on; she later received her honorary degree in 1986 from Hartt. Warwick ranks among the 40 biggest U.S. hit makers, and one of the most charted vocalists of all time, with 56 of her singles making Billboard’s Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998. During her career, Warwick has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and she has captured numerous honors, including six Grammy Awards. Three of her songs ("Walk On By", "Alfie," and "Don't Make Me Over") have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Warwick has been inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, the R&B Music Hall of Fame, and the Apollo Theater Walk of Fame. In 2019, she won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said in a statement that the honorees each "explored new terrain, stretched artistic boundaries, and most importantly, committed to sharing their gifts with the world.” Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein wrote that Warwick recorded "a trove of hits that has become a soundtrack of inspiration for generations of artists and audiences."
More information about the event and the honorees can be found via the Kennedy Center.
Clive Davis, record producer
There simply is no song that Dionne Warwick cannot sing. The lexicon of her hits is as great and as deep as any artist who has ever recorded.