Garth Brooks Gets Teary-Eyed During Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony

by Jacklyn Krol

Garth Brooks got one of the highest awards at the Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony.

On June 6, the 43rd Kennedy Center Honors aired. The event previously took place at the opera house on May 21. It was hosted by Gloria Estefan with only 120 people in attendance and spread out throughout the venue.

Along with Brooks being lauded, Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Midori and Dick Van Dyke were also honored. Brooks’ tribute was the last one. Actor Bradley Cooper who followed Brooks for his role in A Star Is Born, introduced him.

“There’s country music, rock, gospel, honky-tonk — and then there’s Garth Brooks. Garth is a power hitter, who swung for the fences and shattered the barriers between musical genres forever expanding the vocabulary of country music and changing American culture,” the actor said according to THR. According to Cooper, despite his celebrity status, he has “remained the humblest man you’ll ever meet.”

Jason Aldean also praised Brooks for knocking down doors for future performers in terms of sub-genres and style. John Travolta spoke about his friendship over the years and how he has helped him personally.

Garth Brooks Tributes

Kelly Clarkson honored Garth Brooks with a stripped-back piano and vocal performance of his smash hit, “The Dance.” During the performance, Brooks was emotional and tearing up while sitting alongside his wife, Trisha Yearwood, who was comforting him. He gave Clarkson a standing ovation. You wouldn’t know it, but Clarkson was nervous.

“I was texting Trisha Yearwood before the show and then I go on stage and I saw them and like all of a sudden I am the sweatiest human on planet earth,” Clarkson said on her talk show. “And I got a little nervous, and I don’t get nervous singing. Yep, I didn’t enjoy that!”

James Taylor along with the National Symphony Orchestra performed “The River” which held special meaning for Brooks. Taylor has been a huge influence on Brooks musically and professionally. Brooks honored him with a performance during Taylor’s 2016 Kennedy Center Honors induction.

“Garth’s music has an emotional freight. Particularly in front of an audience, the connection is really strong. … His enthusiasm is infectious,” Taylor said backstage.

Additionally, Jimmie Allen performed “Friends in Low Places.” “I love you,” Allen said after his rendition. “Thanks for everything you’ve done, man.” 

It wasn’t until Gladys Knight hit the stage when Brooks was emotional once again. The legendary songstress performed “We Shall Be Free” to close out the tribute.

Along with the ceremony, each honoree met with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office in April.