Sutton Foster, Patina Miller, Karen Olivo, Glenn Close, Anna Kendrick and More Took Part in Kennedy Center Honors; Details Revealed
By Andrew Gans
CBS has released details of The 36th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, which were presented to opera singer Martina Arroyo; pianist, keyboardist, bandleader and composer Herbie Hancock; pianist, singer and songwriter Billy Joel; actress Shirley MacLaine; and musician and songwriter Carlos Santana.
The honorees were celebrated Dec. 8 at a gala evening at the Kennedy Center Opera House.
Performers and presenters included Kathy Bates, Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Terence Blanchard, Garth Brooks, Joseph Calleja, Terri Lyne Carrington, Vinnie Colaiuta, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Sheila E, Sutton Foster, James Genus, Chantelle Grant, Ryan Speedo Green, Buddy Guy, Don Henley, Dave Holland, Juanes, Anna Kendrick, Robert Kerr, Lionel Loueke, Marcus Miller, Patina Miller, Mix Master Mike, Tom Morello, Karen Olivo, Bill O’Reilly, Fher Olvera, Aaron Parks, Sondra Radvanovsky, Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Arturo Sandoval, Wayne Shorter, Snoop Dogg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Brendon Urie, Rufus Wainwright, Steve Winwood and Yuriy Yurchuck.
The starry evening will be broadcast on CBS as a two-hour primetime special Dec. 29 at 9 PM ET.
Details of the event, according to a statement from CBS, follow:
President and Mrs. Barack Obama were seated with the honorees in the Presidential Box of the Opera House at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, after hosting the traditional White House reception for the honorees.
Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe Award, Emmy Award and Tony Award-winning actress Glenn Close opened the festivities with a quote from 1980 Kennedy Center Honoree Agnes DeMille, who said, “The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” Close continued, “This year we honor five who, throughout their lives, made creative leaps… landing on their feet, providing joy and enlightenment to millions. We proudly add their names to our signature wall. A songwriting lad from New York whose songs illuminate our lives and his fans crowned him America’s piano man. A wide-eyed girl from Harlem whose tenacity and sublime voice fueled a triumphal march to becoming a queen of Verdi opera. A Chicago prodigy who loved playing Gershwin and loved taking risks – exploring music’s far frontiers and becoming our very own Jazz Master-in-Chief. A captivating redhead from Virginia with legs up to here, a heart out to there, and a life too big for just one lifetime. A virtuoso who brought the passion of his beat to America, his supernatural guitar and his super sounds electrifying us from Woodstock to the White House. These are our 2013 Kennedy Center Honorees.”
Sotomayer continued, “Another quality you need to be a true diva is heart. I’m convinced Martina’s voice couldn’t be that beautiful if it weren’t connected to a heart that’s beautiful. She is the most giving person – lavishing warmth, care, and attention on her colleagues, many friends, and legions of students. We bonded with each other – a kid from Harlem and another from the South Bronx – over a love of mothers and a sympathetic understanding of the value of people. Finally, I think you can be a diva without a sense of humor, but you can’t be my diva. I just love Martina’s gentle wit. When the great diva of color Leontyne Price was also appearing at the Met, the stage doorman greeted Martina saying, ‘Good evening, Miss Price.’ She sweetly replied, ‘No, honey, I’m the other one.’ …Martina Arroyo is full of life, one of the girls, a sensitive teacher, a lover of people, and a brilliant artist. That’s how I like my divas. That’s why I love my friend Martina Arroyo.”
The tribute to Martina Arroyo was a Verdi celebration featuring the music of “Aida,” commencing with tenor opera singer Joseph Calleja singing “Celeste Aida.” Next, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky performed “O Patria Mia.” Then the United States Naval Academy Glee Club and Army Herald Trumpets took the stage for the “Triumphal March,” followed by the “Finale from Act II,” sung by Arroyo’s protégés Ryan Speedo Green, Robert Kerr, Yuriy Yurchuk and Chantelle Grant, who were joined by Joseph Calleja and Sondra Radvanovsky for the tribute’s moving conclusion.
O’Reilly continued, “Herbie’s status as an artist with an international following has allowed him to travel the world, entertaining millions. His overseas exposure has always reflected well on his country, something I also care deeply about. He is a true gentleman. His fame and skill reflect the values that have made America great… hard work… creativity… respect for yourself and others. Herbie Hancock rebelled against the status quo in music; he never rebelled against humanity. It’s that embracing of what is good in mankind that infuses Herbie’s music and makes him a national icon. He says, ‘I realized that if I perceive myself as a musician, somehow there’s an invisible barrier between myself and people who aren’t musicians. But if I define myself as a human being, all the barriers disappear.’ True. Humble. To the point. That’s Herbie Hancock.”
A rousing array of jazz standards opened the performance segment of the evening, beginning with “Walkin’” and “Watermelon Man,” with multiple Grammy Award winner Wayne Shorter on saxophone, multiple Grammy Award-winning pianist Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette on drums, Grammy Award-winning bassist Dave Holland, and multiple Grammy Award winner Terence Blanchard on trumpet. This was quickly succeeded by another group of remarkable musicians playing “Cantaloupe Island,” including Grammy Award winner Teri Lyne Carrington on drums, along with jazz musicians Wayne Shorter, James Genus, Aaron Parks, Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Michael Bearden, Vinnie Colaiuta and Lionel Loueke. Then, yet another band of musicians performed “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” and “Rockit,” including Grammy Award winner Marcus Miller on bass, with Snoop Dogg and DJ Mix Master Mike joining in with a special rap written for the occasion. All of the musicians united together for the upbeat finale of “Chameleon.”
Bates continued, “Your humanity informs your work. You never judge your characters, or your friends. You believe in the invisible forces that define our souls. And you have a deep desire to bring those souls to life in all their various incarnations and share with us their hopes and fears, their foibles and failures. But it’s your tremendous discipline and otherworldly devotion that makes it all look so effortless. Acting is as necessary to you as breathing… You are the most curious person I have ever met – not curious as in strange – though that, too – but you’re inquisitive. You ask questions to physicists and scientists, to ex-presidents and statesmen, to ordinary old people sitting in front of you – and to beings no one else but you can see – I personally witnessed that last conversation. But most of all, I admire your faith in possibilities: the possibility that we have lived many lives, the possibility that we are not alone in the universe – NASA is betting the house on. Shirley, friend of my heart, I am so proud to be here tonight to celebrate your magnificent accomplishments as an artist. I know you don’t think of yourself that way. You’re just passionate about what you do and you’re still working hard at it. Don’t stop! We think you’re simply magnificent. Now. Forever.”
Then Glenn Close introduced a performance homage to MacLaine, saying, “Years ago, a young dancer with stars in her eyes headed to New York and took musical theater by storm. Tonight, returning the favor, Broadway’s brightest young stars have come to the Kennedy Center to salute the artist they admire.” First Tony Award-winning actress, singer and dancer Sutton Foster performed a medley of hit Broadway songs made famous by MacLaine, including “Something Better Than This,” “Steam Heat” and “She’s No Longer A Gypsy,” followed by Tony Award-winning musical theater actress Patina Miller singing MacLaine’s signature song, “If My Friends Could See Me Now.” Then Tony Award-winning actress Karen Olivo sang “Irma La Douce,” followed by Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick belting out “It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish.” The tribute concluded with all of the performers singing “Lord Help Us, We Love Her” in honor of MacLaine.
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.
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