- Title: Kennedy Center honors Al Paccino, the Eagles, James Taylor, Martha Argerich
- Date: 5th December 2016
- Summary: WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 4, 2016) (REUTERS - Broadcasters: NONE Digital: NONE) (SOUNDBITE) (English) JAMES TAYLOR, SINGER, AND WIFE KIM, SAYING: JAMES TAYLOR: "It's really hard to say who my main influences are. I wish that my mom and Dad were here to see it. That would be nice. More than anything else I'm grateful to this woman standing next to me for her partnership in everything, in every aspect of my life." REPORTER: "And how important is it for you to see him being honored like this?" KIM TAYLOR: "Oh it's such a thrill especially the last year that President Obama and First Lady can bestow the award on James that makes it hugely special."
- Embargoed: 20th December 2016 09:22
- Keywords: Kennedy Center Honors Al Pacino Mavis Saples James Taylor Martha Argerich
- Location: WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES
- City: WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVA0055BLVO07
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Washington celebrated singer-songwriter James Taylor, actor Al Pacino, and gospel vocalist Mavis Staples at the annual Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday (December 4) in a night of music punctuated by the approaching end of President Barack Obama's time in office.
Obama lauded the five honorees, including pianist Martha Argerich and rock band the Eagles, at a White House ceremony that will be his last before stepping down in January.
Politics and the recent election of Republican Donald Trump to the presidency influenced the atmosphere of the evening. Host Stephen Colbert opened the show with a welcome to "endangered swamp dwellers," a reference to Trump's pledge to drain "the swamp" of Washington when his administration begins.
The surprise appearance of former President Bill Clinton with a tribute to Taylor also underscored the results of the election, in which his wife, former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, lost to Trump.
Still, the evening belonged to the honorees and the performers who feted them. Singers Darius Rucker, Sheryl Crow, and Garth Brooks sent up Taylor, who is known for hits such as "Sweet Baby James" and "You've got a Friend."
"I wish that my mom and Dad were here to see it. That would be nice," said Taylor. "More than anything else I'm grateful to this woman standing next to me for her partnership in everything, in every aspect of my life," he said kissing his wife's head.
Hootie and the Blowfish lead singer Darius Walker who covered one of Taylor's songs, said, "James music was so much to me. I mean I remember sit around, you know, losing girlfriends and crying to "Something in the Way She Moves" and stuff like that. So when I got asked to be part of this I was really moved. It was really an honor."
Actor Pacino, star of "The Godfather" and "Scent of a Woman," drew praise from friend and fellow actor Sean Penn for making the gods of acting smile, while actor's Chris O'Donnell and Gabrielle Anwar from the movie "Scent of a Woman", recreated the famous tango scene.
"Twenty-five years ago we did "Scent of a Woman" so, I'm here to salute him tonight and looking forward to it," said Chris O'Donnell.
"I'll Take You There" singer Staples told reporters she was honored to be part of the last group of awardees under Obama, and teared up when she thought of her father.
"I'll be thinking about my father, Pop Staples. He started it all. He's the reason I'm here. You know he started the Staple Singers in 1949 and 1950 and I know he's proud of me. I'm proud of myself," said Staples.
Elle King who covered one of Staples's songs said she was so nervous she could hardly practice.
"I was too nervous to even like fully learn everything even though we know the songs, and so I sang the first couple of times with my eyes covered. But then I got to meet her as I was walking out and she just hugged me and she doesn't know I'm singing for her and so I just instantly felt better," said King.
"It's just wonderful to see all these artists. They're all amazing in their own right. They've all done so much for not their own fields but for everything. Mavis Staples is a huge part of the civil rights movement and that music is something that carried people along and gave people hope, inspiration, and she's here today. And all of these artists have impacted things outside of their own art. It's just great to be here and honor them this way," said actor Don Cheadle.
Classical pianist Martha Argerich, a one-time child prodigy from Argentina, said her experience at the White House before coming to the event was "very special".
"I was very excited and happy to see President Obama and his wife. Extremely happy to be at the White House," said Argerich.
Rock band the Eagles, famous for songs such as "Hotel California," "Take it Easy," and "Desperado," were honored with performances by singers including Vince Gill and Bob Seger. The night was shadowed in some sadness, however; band member Glenn Frey died in January.
Don Henley, Timothy Schmit, and Joe Walsh were present in his absence.
There were many Washington insiders on hand to celebrate the honorees including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who put politics aside for the evening to enjoy the star studded program.
"It's very exciting because it's about, always about an inspiration. In this case, so many good friends." said Pelosi.
The program will be broadcast by CBS on Dec. 27.
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