This year’s Kennedy Center Honors were held in Washington D.C. on Sunday night. The event was held to celebrate “Sesame Street,” Linda Ronstadt, Earth, Wind & Fire, Sally Field, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
The ceremony will air in its entirety on CBS on Dec. 15, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share some early highlights from the show. These highlights include a performance from Carrie Underwood, a tribute from Tom Hanks, and a touching remembrance of “Sesame Street” puppeteer Caroll Spinney.
To honor Linda Ronstadt, Carrie Underwood performed “Blue Bayou,” a song originally recorded by Roy Orbison that Ronstadt covered on a 1977 album. The country music star followed that song up with a performance of “When Will I Be Loved.”
The evening prior, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had referenced the second song at a State Department dinner for the honorees. In answering the question of when Pompeo would be loved, Ronstadt said “it’s when he stops enabling Donald Trump,” according to Variety.
Elsewhere at the ceremony, Tom Hanks showed up to honor Sally Field, who played his mother in “Forrest Gump.” “Hey, Mama,” the actor said in his signature southern accent and was greeted by thunderous applause.
Hanks also teased his former co-star for her work on “The Flying Nun,” a television show that aired for three seasons starting in 1967. Hanks, who is one of the kindest men on the planet, was also effusive about Field’s career and his time working with her.
The timing of “Sesame Street’s” honoring at the ceremony was somewhat strange, given that Caroll Spinney, one of the legendary puppeteers behind the show, had died earlier on Sunday.
“We’re all saddened by this loss, and the tribute tonight to ‘Sesame Street’ is in his honor,” David Rubenstein, chairman of the Kennedy Center’s board of trustees told the audience.
During his time on “Sesame Street,” Spinney was responsible for Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, two of the show’s most iconic characters.
The show also included several other musical performances, including a jam-packed rendition of “September” from Earth, Wind & Fire. John Legend, Ne-Yo, Cynthia Erivo and the Jonas Brothers performed the song together.
To honor composer and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Audra McDonald delivered show-stopping vocals. First, she performed “Somewhere” from “West Side Story,” which was composed by Leonard Bernstein. Then, she performed a rendition of “I Got Rhythm” by George and Ira Gershwin. The ceremony is sure to be a delight when it hits screens next weekend.