Other Honorees Include George Clooney, Amy Grant, Tania León, and U2
Garth Brooks paid musical tribute to the Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight, at the Kennedy Center Honors on December 4. Taking the stage with the Pips, Brooks performed “Midnight Train to Georgia,” before joining Patti LaBelle, Mickey Guyton, and Ariana DeBose for a moving rendition of “That’s What Friends Are For.”
Along with Knight, George Clooney, Amy Grant, Tania León, and U2 were part of the 45th class of Kennedy Center Honorees, recognized for their artistic influences on American culture. President Biden and first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, were in attendance at the star-studded event held at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Trisha Yearwood performed the National Anthem with Kirk Franklin and the Howard Gospel Choir of Howard University. The ceremony will be broadcast Dec. 28 on CBS.
Brooks also hosted a State Department dinner Saturday night, with honorary chair Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, during which the honorees received their medallions. Yearwood offered a toast to Knight, and Brooks remarked, “Art not only connects us, it binds us.”
Brooks and Knight share a mutual love and respect. Knight performed “We Shall Be Free” as a musical tribute when Brooks received the Kennedy Center Honor last year.
“Gladys Knight is not only the Empress of Soul, she’s the heart and soul of soul,” Brooks said. “When she sang ‘We Shall Be Free’ last year, I couldn’t stop smiling and crying. And when they asked me to pay tribute to her, I couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough.”