James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, Gladys Knight, Jimmie Allen and more paid tribute to Garth Brooks during the Kennedy Center Honors broadcast on Sunday

By Karen Mizoguchi
June 07, 2021 04:30 PM
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Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood attend the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors at The Kennedy Center on May 21, 2021 in Washington, DC
Credit: Paul Morigi/Getty

Garth Brooks is now a part of the prestigious collective of Kennedy Center honorees.

On Sunday, the Kennedy Center Honors aired its broadcast of this year's ceremony inducting five artists — Brooks, Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Midori and Dick Van Dyke — for their contributions in the performing arts and for their lifetime of contributions to American culture.

Trisha Yearwood was in attendance for a variety of events to celebrate her husband of 15 years, who was visibly emotional during the many tributes to him.

"Words cannot describe how proud I am of you. To watch you receive this honor was such a privilege. I will be forever grateful to stand by your side & do this life with you! For a moment, on this night, all the world was right. Congrats my Kennedy Center honoree!" Yearwood, 56, wrote on Twitter and Instagram Sunday, along with a photo of the couple sharing a kiss on the red carpet.

Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Dick Van Dyke, Garth Brooks and Midori Gotō pose during the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors at The Kennedy Center on May 21, 2021 in Washington, DC
Credit: Paul Morigi/Getty

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Brooks, 59, was honored throughout the weekend, which included a special outdoor concert where Kelly Clarkson, Jimmie Allen and Gladys Knight performed musical tributes to Brooks.

Clarkson sang Brooks' "The Dance," Allen performed a medley of 'The Thunder Rolls" and "Friends in Low Places" before Knight closed out the night with "We Shall Be Free." On a separate night, James Taylor performed a rendition of Brooks' "The River," which brought the honoree to tears. (Brooks previously paid tribute to Taylor when he received his Kennedy Center Honor in 2016.)

"I am humbled and grateful to EVERYONE that has celebrated this music over the years, this is OUR honor TOGETHER. To the singers and players who perform in the show tonight, thank you for making me fall in love with the music all over again. gratitude, respect, love, g," Brooks shared on Instagram Sunday.

Also throughout the night, Wayne Gretzky, Bradley Cooper, John Travolta and Jason Aldean shared congratulatory words in pre-recorded speeches.

Speaking about the special induction ceremony, which was tweaked in accordance with COVID protocols and limited audience members, Brooks said he was happy to be back in a concert setting again.

"What I missed during the pandemic was concerts. And tonight, I got to sit out there in the crowd and stand up, sing along. I have never, ever got to be in the crowd for 'Friends in Low Places' ever. This was fantastic," he said of Allen's performance.