Kelly Clarkson was one of multiple performers who tributed Garth Brooks during the annual Kennedy Center Honors ceremony last month, giving an emotional performance of the country star's hit "The Dance." The Kennedy Center Honors aired on CBS on Sunday night, giving those who were not in attendance the opportunity to watch the evening's numerous performances.
Clarkson's rendition of "The Dance" was both delicate and soaring, taking place on an outdoor stage in front of groups of socially distanced audience members and honorees. When the camera panned to Brooks, who was sitting next to wife Trisha Yearwood, he was visibly emotional, at one point closing his eyes with his hand over his face. "It was an honor to sing "The Dance" for @GarthBrooks at this year's Kennedy Center Honors," Clarkson wrote on Instagram. "This song will forever hold a special place in my heart."
The Grammy winner previously shared her connection to "The Dance" with Brooks when the country star appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show in December, telling Brooks that his song had been helping her through her divorce from ex-husband Brandon Blackstock.
"There's been a lot of books and people always give you stuff to help, especially when you have kids," she said. "It was like, 'Man, there's so much shame and guilt and everybody kind of sends you stuff." The singer explained that she couldn't "quite nail down" the feeling she was experiencing, but that changed when was listening to one of her playlists and "The Dance" came on. "I was like, 'No, that's the thing,'" the Grammy winner recalled. "That's it."
Along with Clarkson, other performers who tributed Brooks included Jimmie Allen, who performed Brooks' smash hit "Friends in Low Places" and "The Thunder Rolls," James Taylor, who sang "The River," and Gladys Knight, who shared her rendition of "We Shall Be Free." Jason Aldean, Bradley Cooper, John Travolta and Wayne Gretzky honored Brooks with special messages as presenters during the ceremony.
Other members of this year's class of Kennedy Center Honorees included artist, choreographer and actress Debbie Allen, singer-songwriter and activist Joan Baez, violinist Midori and actor Dick Van Dyke. Additional performers included Sturgill Simpson, Rhiannon Giddens, Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Derek Hough, Laura Osnes, Aaron Tveit, Pentatonix, Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Adele Anthony, Hilary Hahn, Randall Goosby and Midori's Orchestra Residencies Program.