Sutton Foster, Patina Miller, Karen Olivo, Glenn Close, Anna Kendrick and More Took Part in Kennedy Center Honors; Details Revealed

By Andrew Gans
09 Dec 2013

Tony Bennett
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
Multiple Grammy Award and Emmy Award-winning musical icon Tony Bennett, a 2005 Kennedy Center Honoree, spoke eloquently about multiple Grammy Award-winning recording artist Billy Joel. “I came of age with the legacy of the Great American Songbook, created by the likes of George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, and interpreted by Frank, Ella, Nat Cole and me. The whole world loves these songs. But times change, and there was an opening for another Songbook – one that could reflect and celebrate its own times. Enter Billy Joel. Billy Joel’s an exciting performer who can move and electrify audiences. And he does it singing the song of… Billy Joel. Great songs on subjects from love to war, from triumph to loss, and stories about ordinary people with extraordinary emotions. He did it in styles from ballads to folk, from street-corner a capella to the richness of the best pop from the ‘30s and ‘40s. And he puts them to tunes you can’t get out of your head.”

Bennett continued, “What a thrill for me to perform with Billy in front of 110,000 of our fellow New Yorkers at Shea Stadium, singing his ‘New York State of Mind.’ Billy Joel is also creating a legacy through education. He visits schools throughout the country. I’m grateful that he spent time with students at a public high school I founded in New York City – the Frank Sinatra School for the Arts. Billy Joel is so much more than the piano man he wrote about, who sings to audiences in the mood for a melody… and he has them feeling all right. Billy Joel is no less than the poet/performer/philosopher of today’s American Songbook.”

The musical homage to Billy Joel commenced with singer Brendon Urie from “Panic! at the Disco” singing a rock-infused rendition of “Big Shot,” succeeded by multiple Grammy Award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Don Henley performing a touching version of Joel’s famous song, “She’s Got a Way.” Then Grammy Award-winning recording artist Garth Brooks took the stage to perform a medley of Joel’s hits, “Only The Good Die Young,” “Allentown” and “Goodnight Saigon,” that left not a dry eye in the house. Finally, Grammy nominee Rufus Wainwright sang Joel’s iconic songs “New York State of Mind” and “Piano Man,” giving an amazing performance that brought the evening of entertainment to its rousing conclusion.