'Reba' Star Melissa Peterman Pays Tribute to Reba McEntire at Kennedy Center Honors

This year's Kennedy Center Honors aired on Wednesday, Dec. 26, and Reba McEntire was one of this year's honorees, with her Reba co-star Melissa Peterman on hand to deliver a glowing tribute to the country star.

Peterman and McEntire starred together on the sitcom Reba from 2001-2007, and Peterman used her speech to recall the first time the two sat down to work together, noting that McEntire was as humble as they come.

"I will never forget our very first table read, and how you introduced yourself to everyone. 'Hi, I'm Reba McEntire.' She used her last name," Peterman recalled, cracking, "In case we confused her with all the other Rebas we knew."

The actress shared that she wasn't just speaking for herself, but also for everyone who worked along with her and McEntire on the sitcom.

"I know that I'm speaking for our entire cast and crew when I say that working with you was pure joy. And most importantly, she made us a family," she said, adding to McEntire, "I just love you so much."

Peterman told the Star Tribune that she knew she wanted to be a part of the evening the moment she heard McEntire was being honored.

"I let them know I’d pay for my own ticket. I’ll drive. I’ll valet," she said. "And then I got an invite to help out. It was beyond my wildest dreams."

The Minnesota native added that she got to spend some time with McEntire after the show and even got to try on the star's new accessories.

"At the hotel, we made her let us try on the ribbon and medal," Peterman shared. "I think she was absolutely overwhelmed. It was difficult for her to just sit back and let other people perform and hear them tell her how much they love her. But I think she enjoyed every second."

McEntire was also honored during the evening by Kelly Clarkson, who absolutely nailed her rendition of McEntire's smash hit "Fancy." Clarkson, who is married to McEntire's stepson Brandon Blackstock, preceded her performance by thanking McEntire for “being a rad grandma to our kids.”

Lady Antebellum, Brooks & Dunn and Kristin Chenoweth and Bobby Bones were also on hand to pay tribute to McEntire.

After the special aired, McEntire used Instagram to share a photo of the standing ovation she received during the evening, writing, "I love you all for standing up for me!!!!"

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(Photo: Getty / CBS Photo Archive)
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Along with McEntire, this year's honorees included Cher, composer Philip Glass, and jazz artist Wayne Shorter. The event originally took place at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 2. Actor and writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire were also given a special honor for their work on the groundbreaking musical Hamilton.

Photo Credit: Getty / Jonathan Leibson