Reba McEntire represented country music in this year’s Kennedy Center Honors class. The Oklahoma native was in attendance as Kelly Clarkson, Lady Antebellum and Brooks & Dunn performed her songs at the December 2nd Washington, D.C., ceremony, which aired on CBS on Wednesday night.
Clarkson, resplendent in a red dress (a subtle nod to McEntire’s infamous 1993 CMAs dress), delivered a majestic take of “Fancy,” the Bobbie Gentry tale of a young girl persuaded by her mother to “be nice to the gentlemen.” A staple of McEntire’s own live show, Clarkson turns the song into a barn-burner on the Kennedy Honors stage.
Lady Antebellum, who will follow in McEntire’s footsteps by launching their own Las Vegas residency in February, offered a medley of “Is There Life Out There” and “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.” Both songs were hits for McEntire in the early Nineties, with “Is There Life Out There” topping the charts.
The duo Brooks & Dunn also mined McEntire’s Nineties catalog, retooling her 1994 single “Why Haven’t I Heard From You” into a bluesy number with both Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn trading vocals. McEntire and Brooks & Dunn have been longtime friends collaborators. They’ll resume their “Together in Vegas” residency at Caesars Palace in June.
Cher, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, jazz musician Wayne Shorter, composer Philip Glass and music director Alex Lacamoire rounded out the Kennedy honorees.