Garth Brooks‘ Kennedy Center Honors ceremony was unlike any other. After he and his fellow 2020 honorees — comic actor Dick Van Dyke; dancer, artist and choreographer Debbie Allen; singer-songwriter Joan Baez and violinist Midori — had their big night postponed from December due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were honored across five days in late May in Washington, DC.
For his part, Brooks says this unique format for the Kennedy Center Honors allowed him more time to get to know the other artists there with him. “I leave here as a fan of these people more than a fellow honoree. We got to know the people we’re with, and that’s the fun part,” he shares (quote via the Washington Post).
Throughout their week in Washington, Brooks and the fellow honorees met with President Joe Biden and were honored with tribute speeches and performances. The Post reports that Brooks’ wife Trisha Yearwood and singer-songwriter James Taylor, a close friend, were part of his portion of the event.
“The Kennedy Center Honors serves as a moment to celebrate the remarkable artists who have spent their lives elevating the cultural history of our nation and world,” Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in announcing the new honorees in January, adding that Brooks has “heightened country music’s profile like no other singer before him.”
During a speech of his own, Brooks offered some “intensely personal” remarks, according to the Post, including noting how fellow honoree Baez was one of his late sister’s favorite artists. To media members, he explained that she and the other honorees had inspired him throughout their time together, too.
“I was looking at [this award] as the finish line. Because of you,” he told Midori, “it’s a beginning.”
The 2020 Kennedy Center Honors event will air on CBS on Sunday night (June 6). Ahead of the show, flip through the photo gallery below to see more from the big event, which also featured Sturgill Simpson and Emmylou Harris honoring Baez.
PICS: Garth Brooks Received Kennedy Center Honors
The Kennedy Center Honors recognize those in the performing arts for their lifetime contributions to American culture. In 2020, Garth Brooks was part of an honoree class that also included singer Joan Baez; dancer, choreographer and actor Debbie Allen; violinist Midori and actor Dick Van Dyke, who were celebrated over five days in Washington, DC, in May of 2021, after the annual event was postponed and adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How He’s Changed! Garth Brooks’ Storied Career in Pictures: