On Sunday night, the Kennedy Center and President Obama honored five of America’s national treasures in the arts: actress Meryl Streep, singer Neil Diamond, actress and singer Barbara Cook, and musicians Yo-Yo Ma and Sonny Rollins.
Even early in their careers, these artists were on the path to honors. Thirty years ago, Meryl Streep had won her first Oscar, and forty years ago Barbara Cook had a Tony and was a leading lady on Broadway and Neil Diamond had three gold albums and one platinum. Sonny Rollins had released 30 albums before 1971, and Yo-Yo Ma, who was only 15 at the time, had already studied at Julliard, been in a concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein and appeared as a soloist at Harvard.
By that rubric, who will we see medaled at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony 40-some years from now? Here are a few of our guesses.
• On stage, Barbara Cook’s honors could go to Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, famous for their roles in “Wicked.” Jonathan Groff, who received his first Tony nomination at 22 for “Spring Awakening,” is one to watch. On the playwriting side, Sarah Ruhl, recipient of a MacArthur Grant and a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is a contender.
• Young classical musicians who could be the next Yo-Yo Ma could be Joshua Bell, or any of the young talents profiled by Katherine Boyle in her recent Sunday Arts story: Gaultier Capucon, Charlie Siem and Yuja Wang, perhaps.
• In other years, the Kennedy Center Honors have gone to directors, choreographers, dancers, comedians and TV personalities. Could we see Jason Reitman or the Coen brothers at the Kennedy Center? Or Ryan Seacrest, Jimmy Fallon or Bravo’s Andy Cohen? Comedians like Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler could also make the list.
We’ve certainly left out some big names. Who else do you think could be on the list of Kennedy Center Honorees 30 years from now? Leave your nominations in the comments. We’ll highlight the best picks.
More on the Kennedy Center Honors:
Correction: This post erroneously stated that Meryl Streep had won her first Oscar more than 40, not 30 years ago. Her first win was in 1979 for “Kramer vs. Kramer.”