The 39th Kennedy Center Honors were a star-studded gala as always but this year perhaps a little more solemn than usual in spite of plenty world-class and lighthearted entertainment.
“The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates the spectacular talents of artists whose brilliance has left a lasting impact on our society,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. This year’s Honorees have.
2016 Honorees Al Pacino, Mavis Staples, James Taylor, Eagles and Martha Argerich were seated with President Obama and the First Lady. The master of ceremony was the brilliant Steven Colbert. But the spotlight of the evening was on the memorable achievements of each of the honorees which were celebrated in words and tribute performances by their artist and celebrity peers.
It was impossible not to feel that Al Pacino, Mavis Staples, James Taylor, Eagles and Martha Argerich not only shaped culture of their times – in the case of Mavis Staples perhaps even impacted history – but left indelible mark on our lives.
The legendary Al Pacino created a genre all his own. His rare blend of vulnerability, masculinity and passion rendered with dramatic effect like no other’s became a symbol of the many productions he starred in.
A special tribute to Al Pacino was paid by Chris O’Donnell, Bobby Cannavale, Lily Rabe, Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Spacey, Gabrielle Anwar and Sean Penn.
Describing Mavis Staples as a soulful and powerful singer doesn’t do her justice. She is the embodiment of passion: a passion on stage and a passion for social justice.
A special tribute to Mavis Staples was paid by Bonnie Raitt, Elle King, Don Cheadle, Andra Day and others.
James Taylor and Eagles are not only brilliant songwriters, musicians and singers. They are the music of our lives. We associate their hits with events in our lives.
A special tribute to James Taylor was paid by President Bill Clinton, Darius Rucker, Sheryl Crow, Yo-Yo Ma, Garth Brooks, James Taylor Tribute Cast and others.
A special tribute to Eagles was paid by Ringo Starr, Kings of Leon, Vince Gill, Bob Seger, Juanes, Steve Vai, Steuart Smith, Eagles Tribute Cast and others.
Martha Argerich (Argentinian piano virtuoso) galvanized classical music and revitalized the public’s interest in classical concerts. Her immense talent and unparalleled virtuosity have garnered awards worldwide and impressed her peers and as well as competitors.
A special tribute to Martha Argerich was paid by Jeff Goldblum, Itzhak Perlman, Yefim Bronfman, Placido Domingo, Yuja Wang and others.
Other highlights of the 39th Kennedy Center Honors?
- The John F. Kennedy Tribute given by Jack Schlossberg accompanied by his sisters Rose Schlossberg and Tatiana Schlossberg, President John F. Kennedy’s grandchildren.
- Cynthia Erivo’s rendition of “The Impossible Dream” was inspired and stirring. Intertwined with recordings of President John F. Kennedy’s speaking on the importance and value of the arts, her interpretation of “The Impossible Dream” could be an anthem of the Kennedy Center, not to mention a mantra for aspiring artists everywhere.
Unlike previous Kennedy Center Honors ceremonies, this year’s was particularly moving. These were the last Kennedy Center Honors of President Obama’s administration. The evening had glitz and glamour and featured great artists of our time. The standing ovation of the night was given to… President Obama.