Where on primetime television can you find a vast array of musical genres such as opera, jazz, pop, and Latin rock all in one show? No, this wasn’t another overindulgent music awards program, but the 36th Annual Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday night. Since 1978 CBS has presented viewers with a look at not just the popular art forms, but other performing arts rarely seen on network or cable TV. The five honorees for 2013 were each given introductions and tribute performances highlighting their careers and outstanding body of work.
Carlos Santana was the first to be introduced by Harry Belafonte, followed by fiery performances from Colombian superstar Juanes, Fher Olvera of Mana, blues master Buddy Guy (2012 Kennedy Center Honoree), and percussionist Sheila E.
Martina Arroyo’s incredible rise to opera’s prestigious Metropolitan Opera House in New York City of “Aida” is what made her a superstar. For the 200th birthday of Giuseppe Verdi, the composer of “Aida,” various arias from that opera were performed in Arroyo’s honor.
It was FOX News Bill O’Reilly who introduced Herbie Hancock. During the short film about Hancock’s life did one realize how many musical boundaries he’s taken jazz into, including the early days of hip hop. At the end of Snoop Dog’s performance he acknowledged and thanked Herbie for giving us hip hop.
Shirley MacLaine, the only non-musician, is currently best known for her role in the PBS series “Downton Abbey.” The dancer and actress had a similar rise to fame, much like fellow honoree Martina Arroyo, in that she replaced a Broadway star. It was in “The Pajama Game” that made Shirley a star on the Great White Way and later in films. Many of Broadway’s luminaries, and Tony Award winners, such as Sutton Foster, Patina Miller, Karen Olivio, and Anna Kendrick performed a montage of Broadway-inspired musicals from her illustrious film career.
Billy Joel’s tribute came from Tony Bennett that closed out the two-hour program taped back in early December. Other impressive performances came from Don Henley, Garth Brooks, and Rufus Wainwright. During “Goodbye Saigon” a group of veterans came out to join Garth that made the Kennedy Center Honors truly unforgettable.