On Sunday night, the Kennedy Center Honors gala celebrated five titans of the performing arts: actresses Cicely Tyson and Rita Moreno, singer-songwriter Carole King, along with filmmaker George Lucas and conductor Seiji Ozawa. The prestigious gala, which was hosted by Stephen Colbert and attended by the first lady and president, celebrated artists for their lifetime contributions to American culture. Carole King was feted by John Kerry, who said she was more than a celebrity or the writer of 400 compositions, including 100 hit singles. “She lives the word ‘citizen,'” the Secretary of State said, mentioning her advocacy in the fields of climate change, women’s rights, justice and peace. A group of musicians including Aretha Franklin and Janelle Monae then performed some of King’s greatest hits, including “You’ve Got a Friend.” Both Tyson and Moreno were praised for their decades of work on stage and on screen, leading the way for other young actresses of color. Kerry Washington praised Tyson by saying she “does not merely act. She delves. She soars. She sings. She vibrates.” Moreno, who is originally from Puerto Rico, and didn’t make it big until she was 30, is one of the few artists to have won an “EGOT” (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) — actresses Gina Rodriguez and Rosie Perez her, as well as “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tony winner Karen Olivo. Responding to the honor, Moreno said in an interview, “It’s kind of a reward, a recompense, not for the obvious things, but for all the hard work, falling down and getting up and persevering. All those years of struggle, the challenges to my dignity, all of those things. That’s what it means.”
- Cicely Tyson (right) during a scene in the play “Trip to Bountiful,” at the Stephen Sondheim Theater in New York, March 29, 2013.
- Cicely Tyson, a veteran stage and screen actor, in New York, Sept. 8, 2013.
- Actress/singer Rita Moreno performs with dancers during the 18th annual Keep Memory Alive “Power of Love Gala” in 2014.
- Actress Rita Moreno (R) smiles next to golfer Tiger Woods during their induction ceremony into the California Hall of Fame in 2007.
- James Taylor and Carole King in their hotel room in Palo Alto, Calif.
- James Taylor and Carole King in Palo Alto, Calif. in 2010.
- Carole King performs music from the show “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” during the Tony Awards in 2014.
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