The “Kennedy Center Honors” Tom Hanks, Lily Tomlin & Sting

Kennedy Center Honors 2014

This year’s Kennedy Center Honorees (Tom Hanks, Sting, the Reverend Al Green, Patricia McBride & Lily Tomlin) pose at the White House. (Photo property of Getty Images)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

2014 marked the Kennedy Center Honors’ 37th anniversary!

Ever year, superstars from stage, screen and the recording industry are honored for their achievements in American culture.

Tonight, Tom Hanks, Lily Tomlin, Sting, Patricia McBride and the Reverend Al Green joined this superb honor society!

Future Late Show host Stephen Colbert took over hosting duties for veteran hostess Caroline Kennedy, who is representing the United States as their ambassador to Japan. The comedian ripped into the Secret Service, praised DC for legalizing recreational marijuana, singled out Michelle Obama and stated the obvious: both sides of the aisle wanted to take a selfie with Tom Hanks.

EGOT icon and The View moderator Whoopi Goldberg kicked off the tributes by paying homage to Al Green. She improvised a guitar riff on stage and added that the Reverend’s songs would make listeners “believe in a higher power.”

A group of soul music’s finest artists paid tribute their Reverend. Earth, Wind and Fire performed “Love and Happiness.” Jennifer Hudson made Mr. Green cry with her powerful cover of “Simply Beautiful,” while Usher made his Kennedy Center Honor debut with his cover of the Reverend (and Tina Turner)’s signature song: “Let’s Stay Together.” Fellow soul and gospel icons Sam Moore and Mavis Staples took the Kennedy Center Honors audience to church with their impeccable cover of “Take Me to The River,” complete with a giant gospel choir! I got goose bumps all over the place! Al Green’s tribute was one of the best Kennedy Center Honors performances I have ever seen in my 13 years of watching this special!

Actress Christine Baranski paid tribute to “The Golden Age of New York City Ballet” and their red ruby: Patricia McBride. For someone who was unfamiliar with the art of ballet and only know this generation’s top ballet & Contemporary dancers Alex Wong, Travis Wall, Danny Tidwell and Jeanine Mason…it was very intriguing to learn about Ms. McBride’s history as the top Prima Ballerina.

For the performance portion of the tribute, my generation’s top ballerinas, Tiler Peck, Jeffrey Cirio, Jared Angle and Misty Copland danced beautiful routines in honor of Ms. McBride. All I have to say to the quartet of dancers is simply: “Bravo!!”

After David Letterman paid tribute to Tom Hanks (but before shooing future Late Show host Stephen Colbert off the stage). Mr. Hanks is my all-time favorite actor and the show did a beautiful job with the short documentary that featured Forest Gump, A League of Their Own, Toy Story and Captain Phillips. I got chills from watching it.

Longtime collaborator and former Kennedy Center Honoree Steven Spielberg praised Tom’s artistry, while Martin Short paid tribute to his friend of 25 years: “Tom Hank.” He also introduced Pentatonix…who rocked the house with “That Thing You Do.” Finally, three of Broadway’s biggest bombshells: Kelli O’Hara, Laura Benanti and Jessie Mueller closed the night with “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”

However, Mr. Short had a one final surprise up his sleeve as he paid tribute to his All-American friend with a cast of thousands with “Yankee Doodle Dandy!”

Author Garrison Keillor made his Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Lily Tomlin. The groundbreaking comedian will always be Edith Ann, Ernestine and Deborah Fiderer to my parents, but she will always be Ms. Frizzle to me! Some of the most iconic entertainers: Jane Lynch, Kate McKenna, Reba McEntire and Jane Fonda paid homage to the groundbreaking comedian. This was one of the rawest and emotional tributes I have ever watched.

Lady Gaga made her Kennedy Center debut with a roaring cover of “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You.” When she records her next album, she needs to include this song on the record! I got chills! Esperanza Spalding teamed up with Herbie Hancock for a Jazzy rendition of “Fragile.”

Longtime friend and past honoree Bruce Springsteen revived lost Sting track “I Hung My Head” and gave it a gospel rock twist. Bruno Mars had the difficult task of following Mr. Springsteen. He not only delivered impeccable covers of “Message In A Bottle” and “Roxanne.” Halfway through “Message In A Bottle,” the cast of Sting’s Broadway show, The Last Ship, joined the ensemble as the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors closed.

Before, I close this recap…I want to salute Kennedy Center Honors founding producer George Stevens, Jr. and his son, Michael, for their outstanding production of this impeccable show. I was truly sadden to hear about their ouster and I wish them noting but the best!

As for the next producer of this show, you have a lot to live up to!


  1. […] Al Green had the best tribute at the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors ceremony. After Whoopi Goldberg paid homage (and called out former President Obama on his Al Green […]

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar