The Kennedy Center Honors, Sort Of

Though it’s always a pleasure to watch “The Kennedy Center Honors”, the broadcast always leave us wondering, why don’t they trot out the big guns to pay tribute to the honorees? When the late James Brown was awarded, where were those he influenced most, a la George Clinton, Michael Jackson, and Prince? Last night, Barbra Streisand was feted, but with no stage salutes from appropriate figures cuch as Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Bette Midler, and Bernadette Peters.

The Center got it right with one honoree this year- George Jones.  Country crooners Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, and Randy Travis took the stage to serenade us with solos from the Jones ouvre.  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout! An aside- I’m glad East Texan Jones was honored this year, when First Lady Laura Bush, who surely grew up on his moving music, was there to introduce his segment.


Kitty Catwoman: Eartha Kitt Dead at 81

We were fortunate to catch the inimitable act of Eartha Kitt, last winter at D.C.’s Warner Theatre. The veteran entertainer was flirtatious, musical, acrobatic, and witty- for two crowd-pleasing hours. Thus it was difficult to believe she died yesterday, and that she was all of 81 years old. The consumate performer, a contemporary of Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, and Harry Belafonte, ascended almost two years to the day after James Brown. How fitting- both South Carolina-born, of modest means, grand gifts to the world.

She was outspoken, as witnessed by the 1968 incident where she confronted First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson about Black and poor young men fighting in Viet Nam. She was a trailblazer, portraying the first “Catwoman” on t.v.’s Batman in 1966. And she was resilient. Kitt was frank, and her talents were many. The show at the Warner was the best solitary performance I have ever seen, rife with sexy repartee, and more allusions to bling than a gangsta rap CD. Kitt was one of a kind, for real.