Dressed in a shimmering silver gown and with snowflake earrings dangling delicately alongside her platinum blonde hair, Underwood delivered “Blue Bayou” and “When Will I Be Loved” with all the power and precision Ronstadt became famous for. From classic pop to bouncy rock ‘n’ roll, Underwood helped showcase some of the wide-ranging influences Ronstadt brought to country in her 1970s heyday, and before the event, Underwood told CNN what the Grammy-winning legend meant to the genre.
“One of the things I always admired about her is her ability to do whatever she wants. She always broke the rules and sang music that she felt like was true to her,” Underwood said. “She was a chameleon. She loved music and she sang so many different kinds and genres; she wanted to sing country music, rock music, she would sing [in] Spanish. She is just somebody I think the rest of us should all be more like.”
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I was so honored to finally meet the phenomenal #LindaRonstadt, a true artist and versatile vocalist who excelled at performing all kinds of music. I hope I made you proud, Linda. 💕#KCHonors #BlueBayou #WhenWillIBeLoved #Inspired
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Held in glitzy Washington D.C. style on December 8, the yearly show honors entertainers and artists for their influence on American culture, serving as a sort of national lifetime achievement award. A favorite of fans and critics alike, Ronstadt was chosen partially for the wide range of sounds and styles she embraced, and she was also honored by a performance from Trisha Yearwood and speeches from Emmylou Harris and Eagles member Don Henley.
This year’s Kennedy Center Honors also offered tributes to actress Sally Field, R&B/soul/funk group Earth, Wind & Fire, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the children’s television series, Sesame Street. Previously honored country stars include Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn and more.