Springsteen, Brubeck Among Kennedy Center Honorees

An eclectic list of musicians and actors will be honored at the Kennedy Center Honors Gala this year. On the music side you’ll find Bruce Springsteen, Dave Brubeck and opera star Grace Bumbry, while Mel Brooks and Robert DeNiro make up the thespian side.

Brubeck said his mother would have been delighted to see her son honored at the event, scheduled to take place on the jazz maestro’s 89th birthday – Dec. 6. Brubeck recalled when he graduated from high school his mother wrote in her diary: “I think there is some hope for David after all.”

“Both my older brothers were such terrific musicians – classical musicians,” Brubeck said during a phone interview with Associated Press. “And she wanted three sons that would follow in her footsteps …, and I let her down. She finally came around to what I was doing. She lived long enough to see good results, and she enjoyed going to the concerts.”

Kennedy Honors creator and producer George Stevens Jr. said it was never a question if Springsteen and DeNiro would ever receive honors, but when. Stevens also noted the two were rather young for the honors, what with DiNiro turning 66 last month and Springsteen hitting 60 Sept. 23.

“With his gritty and honest songs that speak to the everyman, Bruce Springsteen has always had his finger on the pulse of America,” said Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman.

This won’t be the first time Grace Bumbry will appear at the Kennedy Center event, although it is the first time the soprano and mezzo-soprano will be honored. Bumbry attended the first Kennedy Center gala in 1978 and performed in honor of her mentor – Marian Anderson.

“It’s full circle now,” 72-year-old Bumbry said during a phone conversation from Germany where she was judging a vocal contest. “It’s the most beautiful thing.”