Billy Joel and Carlos Santana Receive Kennedy Center Honors
On Friday (December 6th) Billy Joel and Carlos Santana were among the recipients of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors at a gala performance in Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center. Among the other honorees of what is regarded as "one of America's highest cultural and artistic honors" was musician Herbie Hancock, actress Shirley MacLaine, and opera star Martina Arroyo. An edited broadcast of the ceremony will air on December 29th on CBS.
Billboard reported that Tony Bennett led the tributes to Billy Joel, saying, "Billy Joel is no less than the poet, performer, philosopher of today's American songbook." Don Henley was on hand to perform "She's Got A Way," with Garth Brooks tearing through a medley of "Only The Good Die Young," "Allentown," and "Goodnight Saigon" -- which featured a chorus made up of Vietnam veterans -- before Rufus Wainwright performed "New York State Of Mind" and "Piano Man."
Billy Joel told The Associated Press that the said the Kennedy Center honor stands apart from his six Grammys: "This is different. It's our nation's capital. This is coming more from my country than just people who come to see me. It's a little overwhelming."
Harry Belafonte paid tribute to the Mexican-born Santana explaining: "Now Carlos is a citizen of the world. He belongs to all of us. Carlos, you haven't transcended race and origin. Really, who of us has? You continue to be informed by the immigrant experience on the journey to the great American dream."
Santana spoke about the importance for him receiving the award from a President of color: "It's really supreme because the award is being given to me by a black man. If it wasn't like that, I would say just send it to me. But since it's Mr. Barack Obama, I definitely had to make myself present and say from the center of my heart, 'you are the embodiment of our dreams and aspirations.'"
President Obama said of 2013's five honorees: "The diverse group of extraordinary individuals we honor today haven't just proven themselves to be the best of the best. Despite all their success, all their fame, they've remained true to themselves - and inspired the rest of us to do the same."
Billy told us that above all the roles he plays in his career, he's never taken being a songwriter for granted: "Songwriters don't always get the credit or the recognition. The toughest part of the job is the writing. People can go on American Idol and yell on key and they can win the 'Idol' of America, whatever. But writing -- that's a whole other ball of wax. There's a lot of craft, a lot of dedication, and a lot of hard work, aggravation, frustration; and without the song, you don't have the singers."
Carlos Santana told us that he feels the key to the music's appeal is the positive nature of the songs, which run counter to much of the negative, angst-filled rock and rap he hears today: "Our music brings an invitation to people to feel totality, feel absoluteness, make peace with all of it, celebrate diversity -- don't be afraid of it. So our music, it's an injection to a new dimension. I can say that, y'know, and I don't say it like boasting or in an arrogant way. I say it because, look: This is what I do. This is who I am. Like Bob Marley, I am a shaman myself -- and so are you. Everybody has this gift and this power. It's how you utilize it." :
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