The recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors were: Martina Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine and Carlos Santana. The honorees were presented the medallions on December 7thwith the honors ceremony held on December 8th at the Kennedy Center Opera House, where the honorees were saluted by a variety of talented performers. The Kennedy Center Honors as aired on television consist of two hours’ time in which there are no acceptance speeches by honorees, but instead heartfelt testaments to the impact honorees have had on the world and celebrations of their work through various performances.
Contemporary stars paying tribute to living legends is the definition of multifarious. One may not enjoy all of the performances depending on personal preferences but the show includes something for everyone.
A wide variety of people graced the stage of the Kennedy Center including Glenn Close who opened the show by introducing all of the honorees with engaging snippets about each of their backgrounds and accomplishments. Harry Belafonte introduced the Carlos Santana tribute which included Buddy Guy and Steve Winwood, among others. Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor introduced the tribute for Martina Arroyo which included stunning performances from Aida. Bill O’Reilly introduced the tribute to Herbie Hancock which included performances by many musicians, including Snoop Lion/Dogg and Mix Master Mike (from the Beastie Boys). Kathy Bates introduced the tribute to Shirley MacLaine which was a Broadway tribute by Anna Kendrick, Sutton Foster, Patina Miler, and Karen Olivo (which was phenomenal!). Finally, Tony Bennett introduced the tribute to Billy Joel which included performances by Panic! At the Disco’s Brendon Urie and Garth Brooks.
Artists celebrating artists is one of the greatest things that happens in general. The celebration of others’ work is so freeing and lacks a self-promotion that award show performances exude. A show that can bring such diverse artists and people to the same stage, and to celebrate such a wide variety of talent is something to be celebrated in and of itself.