As is my tradition, I note the honorees for the 2022 Kennedy Center Honors. Once again, I am very familiar with four of the five selected in this 45th class and the fifth, not at all.
I vaguely remember George Clooney from shows like Roseanne and Sisters, though I seldom saw The Facts of Life.
Nor did I see him on another show. Nevertheless, he won me $1,200 on JEOPARDY in 1998. A VIDEO DAILY DOUBLE: “Hi, I’m Jason Alexander. This actor co-starred with me on a sitcom called E/R before starring in the medical series ER.” Something I must have read in People magazine or Entertainment Weekly got stuck in my head when Clooney first started playing Dr. Doug Ross.
Subsequently, I saw or heard him in several movies, such as Up In The Air, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Descendants, Gravity, and Tomorrowland. He directed and appeared in Good Night and Good Luck and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
He was the executive producer of Far From Heaven and producer of Argo and August: Osage County.
When I saw Alison Krauss and Union Station in Albany in 2003, Dan Tyminski noted how his wife enjoyed hearing his voice come out of George Clooney’s mouth when the actor “sang” Man Of Constant Sorrow in the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? I have had the soundtrack for two decades, though I saw the film during the COVID lockdown.
“George Clooney is co-founder and co-President, along with his wife Amal, of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.”
Contemporary Christian and pop singer-songwriter
I may have only one Amy Grant album, a vinyl recording of The Animals’ Christmas with Art Garfunkel. It was written by Jimmy Webb.
She was the first self-identified singer of Contemporary Christian Music to go to #1 on the pop charts. There were “Christians” who were HORRIFIED that Amy was doing pop music, such as Baby, Baby. Oh, please.
Amy married musician Vince Gill in 2000. She’s been active in philanthropy for her entire career.
A legendary singer of soul, Gospel, R and B, and pop
I must have learned that Gladys Knight won Ted Mack’s The Original Amateur Hour TV show from reading Ebony or Jet when I was growing up. She was eight in 1952.
Gladys Knight and the Pips had minor hits on minor labels, most notably Every Beat Of My Heart in 1961 (#6 pop, #1 RB). She left the group in 1962 to start a family but rejoined in 1964.
The group signed with Motown in 1966. It always felt that the label didn’t know what to do with the act. Berry Gordy wouldn’t let the Miracles release I Heard It Through The Grapevine, but was OK with the Pips doing so. It became a big hit for the Pips (#2 pop for three weeks, #1 RB for six weeks); it is my favorite version of the song.
Gladys Knight and the Pips did have other hits on Motown, notably If I Were Your Woman (#9 pop, #1 RB) and Neither One Of Us (#2 pop for two weeks, #4 RB). But they also were recording the same songs that The Temptations were also getting.
Their move to Buddah generated their first #1 pop hit (for two weeks), Midnight Train To Georgia. More Top 5 hits followed. She had an active solo career and acted as well.
Cuban-born American composer, conductor, and educator
Alas, Tania León is the honoree I do not know beyond what’s in the KCH bio.
Iconic Irish rock band
In 1988, I told a friend of mine that The Joshua Tree by the band U2 was one of my desert albums. My friend said one couldn’t put a one-year-old album on such a list. Maybe not, but I still like it quite a lot.
Lead singer Bono and his wife of 40 years Ali Hewson, were recently interviewed by Norah O’Donnell for CBS News’ Person To Person with U2’s Bono. He talked about his new book “Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.” He shares how the band – he, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. – stayed together for decades and much more.
Here are some songs: Beautiful Day, One, When Love Comes To Town with B.B. King, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Rattle and Hum version), Where the Streets Have No Name, and Sunday Bloody Sunday.
Watch the show!
The Kennedy Center Honors took place Sunday, December 4th, at 6:30 p.m. in the Kennedy Center Opera House. It will be televised Wednesday, December 28th, on CBS. We watch it every year.