The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced that Renée Fleming will receive The Kennedy Center Honor. She is joined in the 46th class of the prestigious lifetime artistic achievement award by comedian Billy Crystal; British singer-songwriter producer, and member of the Bee Gees, Barry Gibb; rapper, singer, and actress Queen Latifah; and singer Dionne Warwick. Former Kennedy Center Honoree (2017) Gloria Estefan returns as host, marking her third time hosting the special. The 46th annual Kennedy Center Honors will air on December 3, 2023, on the CBS Television Network for the 46th year and stream on Paramount+*.

“The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes artists who have made profound contributions to the cultural life of our nation,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. …Fittingly known as ‘America’s soprano,’ the beloved opera star Renée Fleming has captivated audiences worldwide with her luminous voice, incomparable artistry, and a knack for bringing opera into the mainstream for more than four decades.”

“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,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter.

Renée Fleming said: “How thrilling to join the company of legendary artists who have received this recognition. This award demonstrates the richness and range of the performing arts in our country, and the Kennedy Center’s celebration is a powerful expression of our culture. Music has defined the arc of my life, giving voice to an introverted child, taking me to places I never dreamed of visiting and people I never dreamed of meeting. Most of all, it has shown me the enormous potential for healing and joy that the arts offer everyone. Having looked with awe at the Honorees in that box at the Kennedy Center Opera House, I’m incredibly grateful to think I will be among them.”

The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes and celebrates individuals whose unique contributions have shaped the way we see ourselves, each other, and our world. Recipients have each had an impact on the rich tapestry of American life and culture through the performing arts. Whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television, each Kennedy Center Honoree has a unique place in the national consciousness and their influence has inspired audiences from all walks of life.

Renée Fleming is one of the most highly acclaimed singers of our time, performing on the stages of the world’s great opera houses and concert halls. Honored with five Grammy® Awards and the U.S. National Medal of Arts, she has sung for momentous occasions from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. In 2014, she brought her voice to a vast new audience when she became the first classical artist ever to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. In May, Fleming was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for Arts and Health for the World Health Organization.

Fleming’s current concert calendar includes appearances in Vienna, Amsterdam, Milan, Los Angeles, Chicago, and at Carnegie Hall. In November, she starred in the world premiere staging of The Hours, a new opera based on the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel and award-winning film, at the Metropolitan Opera. In March, she appeared as Pat Nixon in a new production of Nixon in China at the Opéra de Paris.

Fleming’s recording Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene, won the 2023 Grammy Award® for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. Known as a genre-spanning musician, and for bringing new audiences to classical music and opera, she has recorded everything from complete operas and song recitals to indie rock and jazz. She has sung not only with Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli, but also with Elton John, Paul Simon, Sting, Josh Groban, and Joan Baez. She earned a Tony Award® nomination for her performance in Carousel on Broadway, and her voice is featured in two Best Picture Oscar®-winning films.

In recent years, Fleming has become a leading advocate for research at the intersection of arts, health, and neuroscience. She launched the first ongoing collaboration between the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Institutes of Health. She has presented her program Music and the Mind in more than 50 cities around the world.

Fleming’s other awards include the 2023 Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum, the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, and honorary doctorates from eight leading universities.

Recent Kennedy Center history: Renée Fleming has had a long-standing collaborative relationship with the Kennedy Center, including more than 25 performances in various capacities. Highlights include creating and hosting the 2013 American Voices Festival, curating Renée Fleming VOICES series since 2016, and launching a new Sound Health initiative with the Center and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2017.  Joined by Vanessa Williams, she launched the Kennedy Center’s “On Stage at the Opera House” series in September 2020 marking one of the first live streamed performances during the COVID-19 shutdown. Additionally, Fleming was appointed Artistic Advisor -at-Large for the Center in 2016. Most recently, she collaborated with award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Mo Willems on a program to introduce young audiences to opera.

Click here to read the full press release.

Photo credit: Andrew Eccles