Earth, Wind & Fire made history on Dec. 8 as the first African American Group to be inducted into Kennedy Center Honors, which recognizes lifetime achievement in the arts.
The group were announced as recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors over the weekend at its 42nd event, which took place at Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Earth, Wind & Fire’s original members Verdine White, Philip Bailey, and Ralph Johnson, paid tribute to the group’s late founder and co-lead singer Maurice White, who passed away in February 2016 at his home in Los Angeles, California, due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.
“You can’t play any Earth, Wind & Fire songs without Maurice’s DNA being on it, so he’s always here and we’re always celebrating him and his vision,” Johnson, 68, told Billboard. “People are still coming together and having fun.”
Hinting toward a possible duets album in the future, Bailey said: “We’re making a list, and checking it twice. And you’ll hear about it soon.”
“There are so many more African American acts that are deserving and perhaps this can be the first of many more to come,” he added.
Other honorees recognized at the event included Oscar-winning actress Sally Field, singer Linda Ronstadt, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, and the long-running children’s TV show “Sesame Street.”