Kennedy Center Honors Tonight

26 Dec

The 30th annual Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS tonight, at 9:00 p.m., EST.


Started in conjunction with the new National Cultural Center (now known as The Kennedy Center), these honors recognize recipients for their lifetime contributions to the American culture through the performing arts. The 2007 Kennedy Honorees are:

Steve Martin

Leon Fleisher

Diana Ross

Martin Scorcese

Brian Wilson

While I generally agree with most of the recipients of the award, I think that it is a “who you know” award. I’ve always felt that Diana Ross was a manufactured star because of her relationship with Barry Gordy and that she abandoned “her girls” in the Supremes, even though Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard were equally, if not more, talented than “Ms. Ross”. It’s likely the success of Dreamgirls stoked her nomination, but it was great to see that story receive national recognition so that people know more of the real story.

Interestingly, none of the original Beach Boys attended the ceremony. While I think that Brian Wilson is/was a great songwriter and the epicenter of a group that invented it’s own genre of muisc, he certainly would not have attained the success he did without his brothers, Dennis and Carl, Mike Love, and Al Jardine. Also, Brian’s descent into drug abuse and mental illness put a definite strain on the band and their success.

There have been many battles between the members of the Beach Boys over the years, and the deaths of Dennis and Carl have severed any connection Brian Wilson had to the old Beach Boys, other than Mike Love is his cousin. It’s simply sad not to see them all together to celebrate a lifetime achievement award for Brian, especially considering the emotional rollercoaster that has been his life. As such, you’ll have to settle for Hootie & The Blowfish’s rendition of I Get Around and California Girls.

TODAY’s TRIVIA: Who replaced Brian Wilson after his anxiety-riddled withdrawal from The Beach Boys touring in late 1964? An upcoming young guitarist named Glen Campbell.

ETA:   I would be remiss if I didn’t include a little background on the fantastically talented and determined Leon Fleisher.  Fleisher is an accomplished concert pianist known for his interpretations and performances of Brahms and Beethoven.  In 1964, Fleisher loss the use of his right hand due to a muscular disease known as focal dystonia, that tightens the muscles and twists and contorts the hand.  He continued to play his with his left hand and was a prolific teacher and conductor.

In 2004, over 40 years after losing the use of his right hand, treatments of botox and massage-therapy provided the use of both hands again.  The documentary of his triumph, “Two Hands” won an Academy Award this past year for Best Short Documentary.


Posted by on December 26, 2007 in music legends


9 responses to “Kennedy Center Honors Tonight

  1. morewines

    December 26, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Have to agree with you about the Beach Boys. Sad they ended the
    way they did.

  2. Colette

    December 26, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on the KCenter Honors, MM! While recouping from last Thursday’s surgery (which went well, tho it still hurts!), what a fun thing to watch……

    I’m so with you on Diana Ross — there are other Motowners I’d rather see up there first, like Gladys Knight and Martha Reeves.

    But I have a slightly different take on the Beach Boys. Yes, I think that what brought out the genius in Brian Wilson was his main instrument: the particular vocals, and vocal blends, of his brothers and family. They were his orchestra. And if you watch the TV documentary about “Pet Sounds,” you see how they fell out (especially Mike Love, who was happy with the old BB style) over the strange mad turn of Brian’s imagination… can see Love’s point, but also Brian’s in wanting to continue to explore.

    However, I’ll reiterate from an early post: The BBs weren’t just one great band! Without the Beach Boys, who could imagine Buffalo Springfield? The Byrds? Jackson Browne? Crosby, Stills and Nash? The Eagles? The BB, as far as I’m concerned, invented harmonized So Cal’60s-80s rock, not just the sound of it with the wonderful bass-to-falsetto blending, but also the attitude — the “runnin’ down the road/Take it eaaaasssy…..” and “Wish they’d offer me California girls” devil-may-care, surfin’ safari party boy time, and the marvelous melodic mix. And that’s somethin’.

    Leon Fleisher, by the way, is amazing in part because he completely lost the use of one of his hands, and continued to play quite brilliantly. I think of this today, especially, because the fantastic jazz pianist Oscar Peterson (Canadian, so too bad he never got the Kennedy Center award) died a few days ago. He had a stroke a few years ago, and also kept playing, with pretty much one hand. Another case of “when the music is in you, the music flows out of you” — anyway you can.

    Here’s to Oscar (here with my main girl Ella):

  3. music maven

    December 26, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Colette — I have to agree on the Gladys Knight and Martha Reeves thing and I definitely see your point about the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson was the genius of that music and all of the subsequent California band sounds to come.

    I intended on putting something up about Leon Fleisher but was negligent in doing so. I think I’ll edit.

    Also, I missed the December departure of Oscar Peterson. I’ll have to add a post for such a brilliant and talented performer. Thanks for the Ella.

  4. shrewspeaks

    December 26, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Ummm Can we have a post about Scorcese’s soundtrack choices? He is so deliberate painting with sound.

  5. music maven

    December 26, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Good idea, Shrew…I’ll work on that. For now, enjoy some Oscar Peterson on the main page.


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