Last night, The 46th Kennedy Center Honors aired on CBS, giving viewers an opportunity to see the event that in-person attendees have been raving about since the event took place earlier this month.
This year's honorees included Dionne Warwick, Queen Latifah, Renee Fleming, Barry Gibb, and Billy Crystal, and as if that list wasn't star-studded enough, the roll call of those who came out to honor the honorees was even more impressive.
The longstanding tradition with the Kennedy Center ceremony is that the honorees are not given advance notice of who will be performing in tribute to them, which is why the camera always pointedly cuts to the individual being honored as the announcer introduces the next person.
A perfect example of this occurred when Lin-Manuel Miranda – accompanied by Marc Shaiman – emerged to live out a dream he’d had since he was 10 years old and perform “a Billy Crystal-style Oscar medley.”
Others who popped up to honor Crystal included his longtime friend Rob Reiner, his former co-star Meg Ryan, and another former co-star Robert DeNiro, who took the vaguest of stabs at singing a lyrically-tweaked version of “It Had to Be You” before wisely bailing out.
Given that hip-hop is celebrating its 50th anniversary, it’s only appropriate that Queen Latifah should receive the Kennedy Center Honor this year. After being inducted by Missy Elliott, Latifah sat back and smiled her way through a performance of “Ladies First” by the trifecta of MC Lyte, Monie Love, and D-Nice, with Rapsody also performing a number in honor of the Queen.
Barry Gibb, last surviving member of the Bee Gees, was at times hard to read behind his omnipresent facial hair, but it was nonetheless evident that he was pleased by Michael Buble's performance of "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." In addition, the assembled masses were more than happy to enjoy the groove provided by Little Big Town's version of "Lonely Days."
Dionne Warwick was inducted by Ego Nwodim, who has done a loving impression of Warwick on Saturday Night Live, and she got a few laughs during her remarks, but for the performance segment, Cynthia Erivo delivered a breathtaking version of "Alfie."
Lastly, you might think it would be difficult to find the right people to honor a vocalist as tremendous as Renee Fleming, but let it be said here and now that the performance by Tituss Burgess, Susan Graham, and Christine Baranski of the standard "You'll Never Walk Alone" was more than sufficient to bring the house - as well as more than a few tears - down.