Photo: Michael Loccisano (Getty Images For CMT)
Give them all the things.
After turning countless dance floors into a “Boogie Wonderland,” Earth, Wind & Fire will become the first R&B group to receive the Kennedy Center Honors, according to Billboard.
“The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates icons who, through their artistry, have left an indelible stamp on our collective cultural consciousness,” Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement. “Earth, Wind & Fire’s hooks and grooves are the foundation of a seminal style that continues to shape our musical landscape.”
According to the Kennedy Center, other 2019 honorees include actress Sally Field, singer Linda Ronstadt, Sesame Street, and 11-time Grammy Award-winning composer and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.
Founded by the legendary Maurice White, Earth, Wind & Fire emerged on the scene in the 1970s with an unprecedented sound that was an amalgamation of funk, pop, jazz, and R&B sensibilities.
“I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before,” Maurice once explained. “Although we were basically jazz musicians, we played soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, rock, and dance music […] which somehow ended up becoming pop. We were coming out of a decade of experimentation, mind expansion and cosmic awareness. I wanted our music to convey messages of universal love and harmony without force-feeding listeners’ spiritual content.”
Throughout the course of their 50-year history, Earth, Wind & Fire has evolved into the gold standard for R&B music, accruing six Grammys, four American Music Awards, a BET Lifetime Achievement Award, a Soul Train Legend Award, and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along the way. Additionally, outside of composing countless unofficial Black National Anthems, the group has sold over 90 million records, making them one of the bestselling bands of all-time.
“In this class of honorees, we are witnessing a uniquely American story: one that is representative of so many cultural touchstones and musical moments that make our nation great,” Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said. “When I look at this class, I see the hopes, aspirations, and achievements not just of these honorees, but of the many generations they have influenced and continue to influence. We’re not just looking back; these honorees are urging us to look forward as well.”
Songstress Anita Baker was one of many to shower the group with praise on social media.
“Applause! Applause! Standing Ovation #ItsAllAboutLove,” she tweeted.
Earth, Wind & Fire will be honored with a star-studded celebration on Dec. 8 that will be televised on CBS on Dec.15.