Singer-songwriter and activist Joan Baez; country singer-songwriter Garth Brooks; violinist Midori; and actor Dick Van Dyke also had medallions placed on their necks in what USA Today called a “short, small ceremony.” The ceremony will air Sunday, June 6, at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on CBS and stream on Paramount+.
On the Kennedy Center’s website, Allen remarked that she is humbled to receive the honor.
“This is so much more than our nation’s Highest Artistic Award, it is a measure of how my footprint has resonated as a path of light over the years and in this time of tremendous uncertainty, fear, and search for hope. This glorious achievement I share with my family, mentors, and students who have inspired and pushed me all the way. I look forward to being part of a fresh start for America and reminding the world how essential the Performing Arts are in our lives. Much Gratitude,” Allen added.
Allen earned a BFA from Howard University in theater and classical Greek studies. An award-winning producer, director, writer, actor, and choreographer, Allen has also choreographed the Academy Awards’s ceremony 10 times. Among the artists she has choreographed and directed: Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dolly Parton.
The legend did not take all of the credit for the prestigious honor. On the Kennedy Center’s Instagram account, Allen shared the recognition with her family and community, including actress Phylicia Rashad, her sister. Some of her family members were in attendance.
“Legacy—no one builds a legacy by themselves. No one even can find a purpose by themselves. It’s fueled by your family, your community: what is needed, what is missing, what needs to be celebrated, what needs to be changed,” Allen said.