Kelly Clarkson appeared on the 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, June 6 to perform a rendition of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” for the country singer, who was one of the honorees of the night. Clarkson took the stage as Brooks, wife Trisha Yearwood and the other honorees and attendees watched. She performed a slowed-down version of the already-emotional song while being accompanied by piano. The camera shifted between Clarkson performing the pitch-perfect rendition and Brooks and Yearwood watching the performance. Brooks initially watched Clarkson with a smile, but then began to shed tears toward the end of her performance. Fellow Kennedy Center honoree Debbie Allen was also shown enjoying the rendition. After Clarkson sang the final note of Brooks’ 1990 single, the country singer immediately jumped up for a standing ovation.
“It was an honor to sing ‘The Dance’ for Garth Brooks at this year’s Kennedy Center Honors,” wrote Clarkson on social media. “This song will forever hold a special place in my heart.”
Brooks was among the 2020 Kennedy Center honorees. The show, which aired on CBS and Paramount+, was originally set for December, but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kennedy Center honors aims to “celebrate the remarkable artists who have spent their lives elevating the cultural history of our nation and world,” according to Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. The other honorees included actress Debbie Allen, musician Joan Baez, violinist Midori, and actor Dick Van Dyke.
Brooks posted a photo from the event with James Taylor, who performed Brooks’ hit, “The River,” as a tribute to him.
“I am humbled and grateful to EVERYONE that has celebrated this music over the years, this is OUR honor TOGETHER,” wrote Brooks alongside the photo. “To the singers and players who perform in the show tonight, thank you for making me fall in love with the music all over again. gratitude, respect, love, g.”