Earth, Wind & Fire becomes first African-American group to receive Kennedy Center Honors

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Earth, Air and Fire (EWF) made history earlier this week by becoming the first African-American group to be inducted into the Kennedy Center Honors during the 42nd edition of the annual awards and performance ceremony, on Sunday 8 December.

Three of the original band members, Philippe Bailey, Ralph johnson, and Verdine White, were present to accept the honor. The other recipients were the singer Linda ronstadt, twice Oscar winner Sally’s Field, Grammy Award winner Michael tilson thomas, and beloved children’s show Sesame Street—Which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Related: Kennedy Center Announces 2019 Winners: Earth, Wind & Fire, Linda Ronstadt, more

The Kennedy Center Honors have been an annual presentation since 1978. The distinction is presented to leaders in the performing arts for their long-standing contributions to American culture.

Bailey commented on the group’s success in being the first African-American inductees in an interview with Billboard saying, “There are so many other African American acts that deserve and maybe this may be the first of many to come.”

The Chicago-based multi-genre musical group has been making music for nearly 50 years. Formed in 1969, EWF is known for blending the flowing styles of R&B and soul with the energy and business elements of funk, rock and jazz to become one of the most inventive and successful pop groups of the world. decades.

While the gala was held in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, singer Ralph Johnson paid tribute to the late founder of EWF, Maurice White, who died in 2016. “You can’t play Earth Wind & Fire songs without Maurice’s DNA on them” Johnson said. “So he’s still here and we still celebrate him and his vision.”

While it’s hard to get politicians in Washington to agree on many things these days, a large group of lawmakers and cabinet members from both sides of the aisle were in attendance to celebrate this historic event. .

When Kennedy Center Chairman of the Board, David Rubenstein, mentioned the presence of members such as House Speaker and noted Deadhead Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), the hall rose and burst into applause. With over 40 members of Congress, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven munchin were also present.

On the eve of their 50th anniversary, the EWF members raised the possibility of a new album, though they were reluctant to provide details. “We make a list and double check it,” Bailey said. Billboard. “You’ll hear about it soon. “

The event will air on network television on Sunday, December 15 on CBS.

[H/T Billboard]

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