Kennedy Center Honors salute Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Dick Van Dyke, Midori, Garth Brooks

2020 Kennedy Center Honorees Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Dick Van Dyke, Garth Brooks and Midori. (Michele Crowe/CBS)
WTOP's Jason Fraley recaps the Kennedy Center Honors (Part 1)

The Kennedy Center Honors aired as a two-hour special Sunday night on CBS.

The 43rd annual ceremony honored dancer and actress Debbie Allen, singer-songwriter Joan Baez, veteran actor Dick Van Dyke, violinist Midori and country star Garth Brooks.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s tribute was recorded around the Kennedy Center campus, including the Front Plaza, Grand Foyer and Opera House, hosted by Gloria Estefan.


Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen was the first to be honored, featuring spoken tributes by Paula Abdul, Phylicia Rashad, Tracee Ellis Ross and Shonda Rhimes, who introduced highlight packages from Allen’s career.

Allen’s daughter Vivian Nixon joined Ariana DeBose to perform a number from “Sweet Charity,” Anika Noni Rose, Tiler Peck and Desmond Richardson performed “Out Here On My Own” from “Fame,” and Vanessa Hudgens performed the title number from “Fame.”


Joan Baez

Joan Baez was the second to be honored, featuring spoken tributes by Jackson Browne, Phoebe Bridgers and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.

Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell performed “Silver Dagger,” Sturgill Simpson performed a powerful rendition of “House of the Rising Sun,” and Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmylou Harris performed a medley of Baez’s signature songs, including “We Shall Overcome.”


Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke was the third to be honored, featuring spoken tributes by Julie Andrews, Steve Martin, Bryan Cranston, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Chita Rivera.

Laura Osnes performed “Jolly Holiday” from “Mary Poppins,” Derek Hough joined her to perform “Put on a Happy Face” from “Bye Bye Birdie,” Pentatonix performed the title number from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” and Aaron Tveit danced to “Step in Time” from “Mary Poppins.”



Violinist Midori was the fourth to be honored, featuring spoken tributes from John Lithgow, Bette Midler and Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Yo-Yo Ma performed in the Kennedy Center’s Hall of States, while the National Symphony Orchestra performed alongside elite guest performers in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.


Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks was the fifth and final honoree, featuring spoken salutes by Bradley Cooper, Wayne Gretzky, Jason Aldean and John Travolta.

Brooks got teary eyed watching Kelly Clarkson perform “The Dance,” James Taylor perform “The River” and Jimmie Allen perform both “The Thunder Rolls” and “Friends in Low Places,” before the show wrapped with Gladys Knight singing the inspirational “We Shall Be Free.”


See photo and video highlights from the ceremony below:

Kelly Clarkson performs for Garth Brooks. (YouTube)

Derek Hough and Laura Osnes perform for Dick Van Dyke. (YouTube)

Aaron Tveit performs for Dick Van Dyke. (YouTube)

Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmylou Harris perform for Joan Baez. (YouTube)

Yo-Yo Ma performs for Midori. (YouTube)

Vanessa Hudgens performs for Debbie Allen. (YouTube)

Pentatonix performs. (Michele Crowe/CBS)

James Taylor performs for Garth Brooks. (Gail Schulman/CBS)

Gladys Knight performs for Garth Brooks. (Gail Schulman/CBS)

WTOP's Jason Fraley recaps the Kennedy Center Honors (Part 2)

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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