Garth Brooks took the stage at the Kennedy Center Honors on Tuesday night to show off his singer-songwriter roots, delivering a soft, sunny performance of James Taylor’s classic, “Shower the People.”
Dressed in a tuxedo and accompanied by a choir, Brooks seemed completely at ease with the material, which is not surprising, because he has often called Tayor as one of his major influences. A number of his own acoustic-based songs are really not that far off of Taylor, as he made clear in a sensitive version of the beloved classic, while an emotional Taylor looked on, beaming in appreciation. Brooks himself broke briefly, choking up and wiping away tears at one point in the song.
Brooks actually got to work with Taylor recently on his new christmas album with his wife Trisha Yearwood. Taylor seems to be on a track with the title “What am I Grateful For that.”
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“What a great artist,” Brooks excited to have a Taste of the Country. “The reason why I’m in the music was James Taylor, so to see him, a real down-to-earth boy, that is incredibly talented . . . then, to hear him sing those lyrics of ” What am I Grateful For,’ a song Mrs. Yearwood and I got together to write, that was definitely a highlight of my recording life.”
He recalls he was impressed when he met his hero for the first time.
“I cried like a baby when I met him. VH1 has a show where they paired with someone from their hero,” he says. “I got associated with mine and we did ‘Sweet Baby James’ and ‘The River.’ I wrote ‘The River’ practically trying to rip off every lick that James Taylor had, so it was fun to hear you sing those lyrics because that is who inspired you to write.”
South Carolina native Darius Rucker performed “Carolina in My Mind” during the ceremony, and Sheryl Crow gave an emotional rendition of “Fire & Rain.”
Vince Gill was also one of the artists at the 39th edition of the annual Kennedy Center Honors, which honor the achievements of artists who have made an outstanding and lasting contribution to their field. He joined Ringo Starr, Bob Seger, Steve Vai and Kings of Leon for a rousing performance of the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane.”
The Eagles were supposed to be honored in 2015, but postponed for a year by Glenn Frey’s health. Frey died in January 2016 at the age of 67.
Actor Al Pacino, gospel and blues legend Mavis Staples, and Argentine pianist Martha Argerich were also among the nominees in 2016, the Kennedy Center Honors, which taped on Dec. 4, and broadcast on Tuesday night on CBS.