Country News

Country News

Country News

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts event celebrating 2023’s Honorees for Lifetime Artistic Achievements airs tonight (12/27) on CBS at 8 PM ET. The honorees this year are comedian Billy Crystal; acclaimed soprano Renée Fleming; singer-songwriter-producer and member of the Bee Gees Barry Gibb; rapper, singer, and actress Queen Latifah; and singer Dionne Warwick.

The gala event took place Sunday, December 3, 2023, and was hosted by previous Honoree Gloria Estefan. The show will air this evening (12/27) on the CBS Television Network and stream on Paramount+.

The Kennedy Center Honors are annual honors given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime contributions to American culture. They have been presented annually since 1978, culminating each December in a gala celebrating five honorees in the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C.

While the awards are primarily given to individuals, they have occasionally been given to musical groups, one Broadway musical, and one television show.

According to the Kennedy Center Honors official website, honoree recommendations are submitted by the general public, and the Kennedy Center initiated a Special Honors Advisory Committee, which comprises two members of the board of trustees as well as past honorees and distinguished artists.

The executive committee of the board of trustees selects the honoree recipients based on excellence in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television. The selections are typically announced sometime between July and September.

Many country music icons have received Kennedy Centre Honors. They include Roy Acuff in 1991, Johnny Cash in 1996, Willie Nelson in 1998, George Jones in 2008, and Merle Haggard in 2010.

Below are four country icons who were also honored with a Kennedy Center honor. We share who paid tribute to them and details of their big moment being honored and sitting on the balcony with the President of the United States for their special evening.

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  • Garth Brooks (2020)

    Garth was the latest country music star to receive a Kennedy Center Honor in 2020. In the ceremony, Kelly Clarkson performed “The Dance,” James Taylor performed Brooks’ “The River,” Gladys Knight sang “We Shall Be Free,” and Jimmie Allen sang a few of Garth’s songs, including “Friends In Low Places.” John Travolta, Jason Aldean, and others also paid tribute to him. In true Garth fashion, he cried through most of the tribute.

  • Reba McEntire (2018)

    Reba’s Kennedy Center Honor tribute included her then daughter-in-law Kelly Clarkson, who sang “Fancy.” Lady A performed Reba’s “Is There Life Out There.” Her Reba TV show co-star and friend Melissa Peterman gave an emotional speech about her friend and co-star. Kristen Chenoweth also paid tribute to Reba performing songs from Annie Get Your Gun, in which Reba started on Broadway. Brooks and Dunn closed the tribute by singing Reba’s “Take It Back.”

  • Dolly Parton (2006)

    Reba McEntire started the tribute by telling a story about the first time she played the Grand Ole Opry in the 1970s. Dolly showed up to sing, and one of her songs got bumped. Reba was just happy at the time to be in the same room with Dolly. Movie star and fellow native Tennessean Reese Witherspoon also paid tribute to Parton. Carrie Underwood sang “Islands In The Stream” and surprised the crowd when Kenny Rogers joined her. Alison Krauss sang “Jolene,” and Shania Twain sang “Coat of Many Colors.” Vince Gill closed the tribute by singing, “I Will Always Love You.”

  • Loretta Lynn (2003)

    Sissy Spacek, who won an Oscar in 1980 for portraying Loretta in Coal MIner’s Daughter, opened the tribute by talking about her friend Lynn. Reba sang Loretta’s “You’re Looking At Country,” and Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood sang Lynn and Conway Twitty’s classic duet “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man.” Patty Loveless closed out the tribute, singing “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

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