In a time of upheaval, it is wonderful to see some truly inspiring artists recognized, and that is just what occured Saturday night at the Kennedy Center Honors. Singer-songwriter Carole King, filmmaker George Lucas, actress Rita Moreno, conductor Seiji Ozawa, and actress Cicely Tyson were all honored for their years of work at the 38th annual ceremony held in Washington, D.C. The program, which featured a new team of producers for the first time in years, will air on Dec. 29 on CBS.
Host Stephen Colbert kicked off the evening with some humor. "It's a little embarrassing... they all showed up tonight wearing the same necklace," referring to the rainbow neck sash all of the recipients wear. Then it was off to recognize these great people with some help from a star-studded array of friends who both graced the stage and appeared in pre-taped video clips, like Carrie Fisher, who appeared in a hologram video projected by R2D2 for Lucas. "I wanted to be there to help celebrate your Kennedy Center honor in person, but hey, since you invented video voicemail, I don't have to be," said Fisher. "Thank you for giving me one of my biggest roles... and most famous hairstyles." Directors Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese also paid tribute to Lucas, but in person.
The heartfelt thanks kept on coming with Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez honoring her onscreen grandmother Moreno, who turns 84 this week. "You gave me hope, a reason to fight and speak up. When you followed your dreams, you gave me the allowance to follow mine." A performance of "America" from West Side Story, the film Moreno won an Oscar for, was also part of her tribute.
Tyson's tribute was started by Tyler Perry, and then Viola Davis and Kerry Washington took the the stage. Davis called the 90-year-old actress "my friend, my inspiration, my TV mother." "Cicely Tyson does not merely act," said Washington. "She soars. She sings. She vibrates. She is music." Tyson told The New York Times of the event, "I was speechless. I was absolutely speechless. I consider this tantamount to being honored by the queen.”
King's portion of the evening was led by Secretary of State John Kerry, and featured scenes and songs from the musical “Beautiful," based on King's life and music, as well as performances by her frequent singing partner James Taylor, Sara Bareilles, and Aretha Franklin, who brought down the house with a performance of "Natural Woman."
Itzhak Perlman, singer Renee Fleming, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma all honored Ozawa.
Miranda Lambert looking stunning in a plunging Peter Langner white gown, took to the stage to sing "Desperado" to honor The Eagles, who couldn't be there that night due to a band member's illness.
As always, President Obama did attend the ceremony, but came during the intermission after delivering a primetime address to the nation from the Oval Office. His wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, was also in attendance.
The 2015 Kennedy Center Honors airs on CBS on Dec. 29.