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December 29, 2013

'Kennedy Center Honors': Carlos Santana honored in D. C. ceremony

Rock legend Carlos Santana was presented with the Kennedy Center Honors presentation. The December 8th ceremony was broadcast on CBS over the weekend. President and Mrs. Barack Obama attended the gala alongside honorees which, besides Santana, included Herbie Hancock, Shirley MacClaine, Billy Joel and opera singer Martina Arroyo.

The annual event recognizes recipients for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures and television. In keeping with tradition, the roster of performers and presenters remained secret prior to the gala, and a short biographical film was featured during each honoree’s tribute.

Performers and presenters honoring Santana included Harry Belafonte,  Buddy Guy, Juanes, Sheila E., Tom Morello, Fher Olvera and Steve Winwood.

Harry Belafonte, a 1989 Kennedy Center Honoree, introduced the tribute to his longtime friend, multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy Award-winning musician Carlos Santana. “I tell you folks, there’s no two ways about it, we have got to do something about Mexican immigration. Every day you have people like Carlos Santana coming into this country and taking jobs that should be going to… to Americans!” he joked. Belafonte continued, “Carlos Santana is now a citizen of the world. He belongs to all of us. And while he hasn’t transcended race and origin – really, who of us does? – he has continued to be informed by the immigrant experience and the journey to the American dream. I think that’s why his music is so filled with joy and passion… and his heart is filled with love and generosity. Even without the music, Carlos Santana would be an essential humanitarian… but with the music… well, he is a god. His music tells us to be happy, to get up and move and not just side to side, but to get up and move mountains. It tells us to love. And what a privilege it is tonight to give back some of that love to my friend, Carlos Santana.”

Check out a performance from Sheila E and Steve Winwood from the show:



Glenn Close opened the festivities with a quote from 1980 Kennedy Center Honoree Agnes DeMille, who said, “The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” Close continued, “This year we honor five who, throughout their lives, made creative leaps… landing on their feet, providing joy and enlightenment to millions. We proudly add their names to our signature wall. A songwriting lad from New York whose songs illuminate our lives and his fans crowned him America’s piano man. A wide-eyed girl from Harlem whose tenacity and sublime voice fueled a triumphal march to becoming a queen of Verdi opera. A Chicago prodigy who loved playing Gershwin and loved taking risks – exploring music’s far frontiers and becoming our very own Jazz Master-in-Chief. A captivating redhead from Virginia with legs up to here, a heart out to there, and a life too big for just one lifetime. A virtuoso who brought the passion of his beat to America, his supernatural guitar and his super sounds electrifying us from Woodstock to the White House. These are our 2013 Kennedy Center Honorees.”

The musical portion of the tribute commenced with a vibrant introduction by the Rob Mathes All Star Band of “Soul Sacrifice,” followed by an exciting performance medley of “Corazon Espinado,” “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va,” with Mana vocalist Fher Olvera, Juanes on vocals and electric guitar, and guitarist Tom Morello. Next, blues legend Buddy Guy, a 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree, performed “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man.” Finally, musician Steven Winwood and Sheila E gave the audience an exhilarating rendition of “Everybody’s Everything,” which concluded the performances in honor of Carlos Santana.
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