Two leading gay cultural figures — dancer-choreographer Bill T. Jones and Broadway tunesmith Jerry Herman — and gay-friendly media queen Oprah Winfrey will be among the artists receiving the 33rd annual Kennedy Center Honors in December.
Jones founded the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company with his late partner. The company, now in its 27th year, has performed Jones’s works all over the world. His dance pieces include Still/Here, dealing with the AIDS pandemic, and Fondly Do We Hope ... Fervently Do We Pray, about Abraham Lincoln. He has worked on Broadway as well, winning Tony awards for his choreography of Spring Awakening and Fela! He also wrote and directed the latter show, which is still running.
Herman wrote the music and lyrics for La Cage aux Folles, currently in revival on Broadway, as well as for Hello, Dolly! and Mame. He won Tonys for his scores of La Cage and Dolly, and he has received Tony and Drama Desk awards for lifetime achievement.
Winfrey has built a media empire with her eponymous television talk show — which has often dealt with gay issues — plus magazines, movies, and Broadway shows, including the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple, on which Winfrey was a producer.
Rounding out the honorees, announced Tuesday, are country singer-songwriter Merle Haggard and legendary pop musician Paul McCartney.
The five will be saluted with a gala performance December 5 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. It will be broadcast on CBS December 28.