The 39th Kennedy Center Honors was a poignant affair Sunday night with the largest ovation for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama when they arrived in their balcony seats for the eighth and final time. Stephen Colbert returned to host the Washington, D.C. ceremony, which will air December 27 on CBS. Honorees for 2016 were Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, rock band Eagles, Oscar-winning actor Al Pacino, gospel and R&B singer Mavis Staples, and rock folk singer James Taylor. Here are the complete details for each of the five tributes during the event.
First up was the tribute to Taylor, which featured surprise guest and former President Bill Clinton with opening remarks. Darius Rucker performed a medley of “Sweet Baby James” and “Carolina in My Mind.” Sheryl Crow followed with “Fire and Rain” and “Your Smiling Face.” Then Garth Brooks took on “Shower the People” and “How Sweet It Is” with all of the performers on stage together with the Howard University Choir.
The second honoree was Pacino. Remarks were made by his “Scent of a Woman” co-star Chris O’Donnell. Others with either moving or comedic comments were Bobby Cannavale, Kevin Spacey, Sean Penn, Laurence Fishburne, Gabrielle Anwar, and Lily Rabe.
The Staples segment featured comments from Don Cheadle and music from Elle King (“Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There”). The conclusion was by Andra Day and Bonnie Raitt (“We Shall Not Be Moved” and “Freedom Highway”).
Argerich was first celebrated with opening comments by Jeff Goldblum. Previous honoree Itzhak Perlman and Yefim Bronfman performed a Beethoven sonata. Past honoree Placido Domingo introduced newcomer Yuja Wang with “Grand Tango.”
Eagles members Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit, and Joe Walsh were honored along with the family of the late Glenn Frey. Ringo Starr led off the tribute with Kings of Leon up first singing “Take It Easy.” Vince Gill performed “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” followed by Bob Seger with “Heartache Tonight,” and then Juanes with “Hotel California.” The whole group closed with “Life in the Fast Lane.”
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