For the past 35 years, CBS has broadcasted the underappreciated awards show, the Kennedy Center Honors, in which the Kennedy Center and the White House honor numerous highly achieved artists with performances and speeches by other artists.
The honorees range from Bill T. Jones to Bruce Springsteen, Elizabeth Taylor to Yo-Yo Ma. Many well-known faces and others more obscure make tribute to the art of those being honored.
This year, there are seven honorees: Buddy Guy, an achieved guitarist, Dustin Hoffman, a seasoned actor, David Letterman, a comedic pioneer, Natalia Makrova, an acclaimed ballerina, and the three living members of Led Zeppelin. I had the privilege of sitting in on the rehearsal and seeing what is to come this year, and it looks amazing.
The show has everything in entertainment, from music to comedy, and is definitely worth watching. It starts with the tribute to Hoffman. Acclaimed actor and 2009 honoree Robert DeNiro gives a speech honoring Hoffman. The tribute then goes onto a video and numerous entertaining tributes to the Hoffman’s works.
The second honoree to receive tribute is Makrova; a short, biographical film is shown and dancers perform in honor of her. This is only the beginning.
Following the tribute to Makrova is the tribute to Guy, which begins with a speech by legendary actor and 2008 honoree, Morgan Freeman. Another video is shown, and fantastic musical performances follow.
At one point, British guitarist Jeff Beck performs, proving he is one of the great guitarists of his day. You feel the rock and blues associated with great guitarists such as Jimmy Hendrix and Eric Clapton, as well as Guy. As Beck plays, singer Beth Hart belts out the blues. Instead of suffering through seizure-inducing lights and the cheesy pop found in MTV awards shows, viewers get to immerse themselves in quality music performed by some of the best in their field.
The next tribute is entertaining in a completely different manner. Letterman’s tribute begins with a humorous speech by comedian Tina Fey, followed by a video. Afterwards, comedians Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Kimmel and Ray Romano all make hilarious speeches in tribute to the great talk show host, explaining how he not only helped their careers but touched their lives. It is filled with jokes about pop culture while poking fun at Letterman and referencing the President and others in the crowd.
The show brings the viewer back to music for the final tribute of the night to one of rock’s most legendary groups, Led Zeppelin. It starts with a humorous tribute speech by comedic actor Jack Black, shows a short clip and then the glory begins. With excellent performances by the Foo Fighters, Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz and members of the rock group Heart, viewers will be hard pressed to stay in the seats as they are exposed to some of the greatest rock music of all time.
The Kennedy Center Honors is worth watching, because instead of awarding whoever is most popular and displaying performances from iTunes’ top 10, the awards go to the most talented and the performances are by those who have or will join the elite club of the honorees.
The Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcasted Dec. 26 from 9-11 p.m. Anyone who wants to see performance art at its best should tune in to what just may be America’s finest awards show.