Two Jersey girls received high accolades and were honored at The Kennedy Center Honors this week. The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes artists who have made a profound contribution to the cultural arts of our country. In its 46th year, two of the honorees include New Jersey’s own iconic Dionne Warwick and Queen Latifah.

Dionne Warwick was born and raised in East Orange, New Jersey. Clive Davis who attended the gala said this about Dionne Warwick: "There simply is no song that Dionne Warwick cannot sing. The lexicon of her hits is as great and as deep as any artist who has ever recorded."

The very soulful Dionne with her signature voice has sold over 100 million albums and received 6 Grammy Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award. Her songs hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts 56 times and her songs Alfie, Do You Know the Way to San Jose, Then Came You, That’s What Friends are For and I’ll Never Fall in Love Again Walk On By, and were all million sellers.

Joe Biden Billy Crystal Renée Fleming Barry Gibb Queen Latifah Dionne Warwick

Dione was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2013, with Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and ASCAP, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she’s on the Apollo Walk of Fame, and others accolades.

Dionne was and continues to be active in community causes. Her work with AIDS was exemplary with proceeds from her song That’s What Friends Are For going to the cause. President Reagan appointed her a United States Ambassador of Health. At 82, Dionne Warwick had a fully successful musical career and she’s a Jersey girl that we can all be proud of.

Joe Biden Billy Crystal Renée Fleming Barry Gibb Queen Latifah Dionne Warwick

Make way for Queen Latifah who was the first female rapper to be honored at The Kennedy Center Honors. The 53-year-old Newark, NJ-born Dana Owens is a singer, songwriter, actor, producer and more. The Queen began beatboxing for the group Ladies Fresh. She caught the eye of other rappers and then in the late 90’s started to rap about issues that face black women. In 1998 she released her first album All Hail the Queen when she was just nineteen. That album catapulted the talent Queen to stardom in the rap world and eventually TV, stage, and movies.

The Queen adds The Kennedy Center Honors to a long list of accolades including being nominated for an Academy Award in 2003, winning a Grammy, a BET Lifetime Achievement Award, being on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, She was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2011, she’s won a Screen Actors Guild Award, NAACP Image Award, she received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Rutgers University, Harvard University awarded her the W.E.B. DuBois Medal and she’s won other awards and honors.

Queen Latifah, AKA Dana has stayed true to her Jersey roots by maintaining homes in Colts Neck and Rumson, NJ. She also lives in Beverly Hills so that she can continue her acting career.

Barry Gibb, Dionne Warwick, Renee Fleming, Billy Crystal, Queen Latifah, Jill Biden, Joe Biden
Greg Allen/Invision/AP

Dionne Warwick and Queen Latifah were both part of a special class of honorees going into Kennedy Center Honors with actor/comedian Billy Crystal, singer-songwriter from the Bee Gees Barry Gibb, and opera star Renee Fleming. New Jersey was well represented by two outstanding entertainers.

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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