Knight, Clooney, Grant feted at Kennedy Center Honors

A heartfelt Patti LaBelle praised her lifelong pal Gladys Knight. Sean Penn called U2 “4 scrappy Dublin punks.” Ballet dancers carried out for conductor and composer Tania León. Matt Damon playfully teased his friend George Clooney — plenty — at the same time as Sheryl Crow introduced a heartfelt rendition of “Baby Baby” to Amy Grant at some point of Sunday’s Kennedy Center Honors.

Knight, Clooney, Grant, León and U2 were all celebrated at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which annually honors a choose group of human beings for their creative influences on American tradition. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their respective spouses have been in attendance, as were members the President’s Cabinet and Congress.

One audience member from the political global — Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — drew a few attention. He is recovering from a brutal attack in the Pelosis’ San Francisco domestic in October. The couple acquired a status ovation from the gang.On the purple carpet, Clooney, with his spouse, Amal, beside him, joked that when seeing pals like Don Cheadle and Julia Roberts in attendance he turned into involved his tribute would be greater of a “roast.” And it become a chunk like that, though his friends and circle of relatives showed apparent admire.

Roberts set the tone through coming out onstage with a get dressed emblazoned with pictures of Clooney. After an introduction that alternated between funny and heartfelt she became to a fixed designed to appear like a smoky bar — the type Clooney would possibly experience. The actor’s father, Nick Clooney, regaled the crowd with tales of a young George, including the time the 7-yr-vintage — heartbroken over the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. In 1968 — gave his father all his toy weapons.

Damon took the funny street, joking approximately how Clooney once stole then-President Bill Clinton’s stationery and wrote notes to fellow actors on it. Cheadle highlighted Clooney’s philanthropic paintings. But it become Clooney’s father who likely had the most powerful praise, telling the crowd and his son, sitting within the balcony among León and U2′s Bono, “George’s first-rate and most essential work is still ahead of him.Standing on a level lit via a huge signal reading “Gladys,” LaBelle called Knight her “the entirety,” announcing they have been pals for six decades and had visible every different via laughter and tears. “We do the whole thing together,” LaBelle said. “I am honored to honor you tonight.”

Actor and hip-hop big name LL Cool J stated that each time Knight sings she connects with humans. “I once heard Gladys sing the ABCs and I thought I become in church,” he said.

Knight — typically along with her backup singers, The Pips — has recorded dozens of albums with such classic hits as “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” The project of making a song that traditional in the front of the lady who made it well-known fell to us of a music movie star Garth Brooks, who is a Kennedy Center honoree in his very own right. He mentioned Knight’s “roots in country music” earlier than launching into the classic.Each artist became brought by means of a video compilation displaying snippets of their lives. In Grant’s, her youngsters mentioned their mother’s have an impact on on them. Crow mentioned Grant’s affect on her whilst she became a younger college student.

“Amy additionally taught me that it become possible to be humorous, irreverent and Christian all on the equal,” said Crow.

Five ballet dancers took to the level to honor composer and conductor Tania León, who left Cuba as a refugee in 1967; her passport changed into stamped “Cancelado” when she left the u . S .. The performers had been from the Dance Theatre of Harlem, which León helped discovered when she finally made her manner to New York City. She also instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series and in 2021 received the Pulitzer Prize for her paintings “Stride,” stimulated with the aid of girls’s rights champion Susan B. Anthony.

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