Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kennedy Center Honors inspires

The recent broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors, one of my favorite events in television, featured two of my favorites--Oprah Winfrey and Paul McCartney. Also honored were Country Singer Merle Haggard, Dancer/Choreographer Bill T. Jones, and Composer Jerry Herman. It was spectacular!

Winfrey and McCartney were my favorites. When I heard they were to be honored, I wrote the date on my calendar. I always enjoy watching the Kennedy Center Honors, even when I don't know the honorees. I lead a simple life, and don't go to Broadway shows or frequent similar entertainment venues, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the arts. I consider cultural activities vitally important to the human condition.

The awards actually were bestowed on December 5. I mistakenly thought the show would be aired that day. I was disappointed when it wasn't. So I waited.

Finally learned the date would be Dec. 28, I was glad I remembered to watch.

I have "known" Oprah Winfrey since her early days in Chicago; she was on Kennedy and Company, a morning show that featured news and entertainment, hosted by Bob Kennedy. He died suddenly in 1972, and was no relation to the former President, to my knowledge. Oprah went on to host the show, first locally when it was called A.M. Chicago. Later, in '86 it went national and was renamed the Oprah Winfrey Show. The rest is history.

Like so many others my age, I have been a fan of Paul McCartney since the Beatles first came to the United States to perform. I, of course remember the famed performance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Paul was my favorite Beatle.

I remember having pictures of the Fab Four on the back of my bedroom door. Like the other teenie boppers of the era, I kissed each of their pictures each night before I went to sleep. I of course had all their records and sang with them on a daily basis. I feel as though we have grown up together, living through the same global trials and triumphs.

I was moved by this show. I feel I've "known" these two--Oprah and McCartney--longer than I've known my husband and children. I watched through tears from the moment Oprah Winfrey was shown as a little girl growing up in Mississippi, to the last notes of Hey Jude.

The stories of the other honorees were probably equally inspiring to those who were invested in their lives. I wasn't one of them, but enjoyed them nonetheless.

There was even a tug at my heart at the sight of Caroline Kennedy as I thought about her father and his accomplishments during his too-shortened political life. I've always wondered what he might have achieved. Seeing her reminded me of the sad times we've shared with her, through her sparse television appearances; when her father was assassinated, her mother died, her brother's plane crashed, and when she buried Uncle Teddy.

Jennifer Hudson singing a song from "The Color Purple" produced by Oprah was a moment that for me, was only topped by Steven Tyler performing an "Abbey Road" medley of McCartney hits.

What an awesome night, one that actually made me proud to be a television viewer, for a change!

The Kennedy Center Honors is a wonderful, timeless legacy to bestow upon the artists who inspire and entertain. Thanks for the memories.